Face it, no adult likes to go to the dentist. So why should your children be any different? Fear of the dentist is a natural feeling for many children, young or old. After all, the dentist has sharp objects, drills and terrible tasting fluoride treatments.
When it’s time for a trip to the dentist, there are a few ways you can help your child to feel a bit more comfortable.
For younger children, purchase a book about going to the dentist. We like Little Critter’s “Going to the Dentist” and “Brush Your Teeth, Please,” published by Reader’s Digest. “Brush Your Teeth Please” is a wonderful popup book that includes a toothbrush held by a string. Children get to brush the teeth of large toothed animals including a happy lion. The Little Critter book is simply charming, as are most of Mercer Mayer’s books.
One of the best things I’ve done for my daughter is finding her a pediatric dentist that specializes in children who are afraid or have special needs. Although her first visit was nerve wracking for both of us, the office has built a great trust with her that now makes cleanings a breeze.
Another way to help a frightened child is to let him or her come to your own dental cleaning appointment. Let your child sit in the chair first and perhaps “take a ride.” Then have the dental hygienist explain everything he or she is doing to your teeth. It is best to call ahead to be sure this will work for your appointment. If your dental office refuses, perhaps it is time to see a new dentist!
Most dental appointments for children go best early in the morning. If the appointment is late in the day it gives your child more time to fret about what is to come. Plan something special for after the dentist appointment, such as a trip to the library, playground or zoo.
And finally, ask your child why he or she is afraid. Perhaps your child heard frightening stories in school or saw something scary on television about the dentist. Assure your child that the dentist is there to help keep your child’s teeth clean and healthy!