Help Your Child Overcome Their Fear Of The Dentist

Helping Your Child Overcome Their Fear Of The Dentist
Posted on 01/04/2019

As a parent, you want the best for your little ones, and that means healthy teeth and gums. You know how important it is to teach your child good oral hygiene habits, and you know they need to visit the dentist regularly. But what if your child is fearful of going to the dentist? Drs. J. Christopher Smith and Richard Smith, DDS understand that visiting the dentist can be a frightening experience for some, and that is why we take a warm and compassionate approach with children who are anxious. We recommend the following tips for helping your child overcome their fear and actually look forward to their time at our Charleston, WV dental office!

Start Early

The sooner you introduce your child to the dentist, the easier it will be for him or her to get used to the process. Smith Family Dentistry recommends that your child have their first dental visit by the time their first tooth is visible, or by age 1 - whichever comes first.

Be Positive

To help your child develop a positive mindset, avoid using words such as “hurt”, “pain”, “tools”, “shot”, or other similar words. Instead, tell your child that the dentist is just looking through their mouth to make sure it looks good and to count their teeth. Don’t go into details about what treatments they may need. Keep things as simple as possible and let your Charleston dentist walk your child through their visit.

Expect Apprehension

Most small children won’t be overly enthusiastic about visiting the dentist and having a stranger examine their mouth. This is normal behavior and your Charleston, WV dentists understand apprehension, so don’t try to correct this. Instead, allow your dentist to calmly explain to your child in kid-friendly terms what to expect, and follow their lead. We may have you sit next to your child or hold your child’s hand depending on the level of apprehension.

Stay Normal

The more normal you treat going to the dentist, the less nervous your child will be. Talk and act like dental visits are just a typical part of life, and that there is nothing scary or big about them.

Rethink Rewards

If the goal is to treat dental visits normally, bribing your child with a prize or reward for visiting the dentist will contradict your message. We associate rewards with accomplishing a feat or doing something challenging. You don’t want your child to have the frame of mind that going to the dentist is a great feat or a challenge, so instead, simply praise your child afterward for his or her good behavior. You can also surprise your child every so often with a special trip to the zoo or library, or let them pick out a small toy at the store.

Practice With Your Child

Kids love using their imagination and playing pretend. You can use this to your (and their) advantage by doing a pretend visit to the dentist! Just remember to avoid using “tools” or instruments, and instead just use a toothbrush and a mirror to be the “dentist”. Cleaning and counting their teeth is all they need to know about what to expect. Make it fun, and allow your child to anticipate their first dental visit!

Contact Your Charleston Dentist Today!

We at Smith Family Dentistry strive to foster a warm and friendly office environment that provides a comfortable experience for each Charleston, WV patient we see. We treat our small patients with kindness and a gentle approach to all things dental. If you’d like more tips on helping your child overcome fear of the dentist, or have any questions related to dental treatment or any of the services we offer, we encourage you to contact us, and when you’re ready, schedule your child’s appointment. We can’t wait to help give your child a gorgeous and healthy smile!