It’s a stereotype that’s hard to get away from — that all kids are terrified of the dentist. When polled about kids and dental visits, most dentists say the vast majority of kids do fine. But there still is some fear of the unknown, whether it’s a first appointment or a first filling.
Parents can help put their children at ease in a number of ways. Don’t over prepare: Don’t make too big a deal about an upcoming appointment, even if it is positive reinforcement.
Let them watch from the sideline: Bring your child along to one of your own check-ups before it’s the child’s turn in the chair.
Choose your words carefully: Yes, there are drills and needles in a dentist’s office, but filling a child’s heads with these images will have them fearing the worst. Avoid using words like “tools,” “scraping” or anything else that sounds painful.
Stress the benefits: Don’t talk about what will be done “to” the child, but rather, what will be done “for” them. An obvious benefit of dental care is having a bright, healthy smile. Or tell them that regular checkups will help them avoid the more serious problems that can arise because of neglect.
Read a book: There are many storybooks available that introduce children dentistry. Reading about a favorite character’s trip to the dentist will take some mystery out of the experience. Not all books are dentist approved, however. Some stories that have been in publication for a long time may reflect outdated attitudes towards dentistry.
Be patient: Occasionally, there will be a child who is just too scared to open his mouth. In these instances, the dentist may simply talk to the child to build trust.
Find the right dentist: Modern dentists are generally skilled in dealing with their patients’ anxieties, but they still differ in personality and approach. Some children may prefer a high-energy dentist who cracks jokes, while others will feel more comfortable with one who projects a reassuring calmness. A good dentist will alter his or her chair-side manner based on how an individual responds.
If your child needs to be seen for a dental appointment, whether it’s their first, or 21st, give us a call today at 734-677-2156 to set up an appointment at ourAnn Arbor dental office to see Dr. Kotre, or her new associate, Dr. Coleman. Both are mothers themselves, and pride themselves on a truly gentle approach to treating children of all ages.