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Combating Children’s Fear of the Dentist

This guest blog and the video below are brought to you by Dental Elite.

Children and adults can be scared of the dentist, a fear known as Odontophobia. However, if you can reassure children early on it is likely they will grow up with a sense of confidence around going to the dentist and thus live a much healthier life.

A fear of the dentist can be caused by several factors. Maybe the child has heard stories from adults or children about experiencing pain at the dentist; perhaps they have sensed anxiety in their parent when an appointment is due; or more likely they just feel a sense of unease at the unknown.

Let’s look at how we can reassure children about a trip to the dentist so they can grow up welcoming appointments, rather than dreading them.

  • Explain the Process
    First, it is important to explain in simple terms exactly what the role of a dentist is and why it is so important to get your teeth checked regularly. You can explain to the child they will need to see the dentist every six months and what will happen during these appointments, so that nothing deems too daunting. However, it’s also important that while you lay out the facts you don’t go into too much detail. Sometimes over-talking around the issue can cause it to be a bigger deal than the child might have thought it otherwise.
  • Work With Your Dentist
    Ask your dentist if they can briefly explain some of the different items around their surgery, such as the x-ray machine. Children will usually enjoy a little ride in the dentist’s chair too as it is something new.
    It’s also important that while you are a presence in the room during your child’s appointment you also stand back and let a bond form between the child and the dentist. Sometimes children will be more willing to do what is asked of them by the dentist than by their parent; and it gives the child a sense of autonomy.
  • Reward Your Child
    You could also reward your child with something extra nice on the day of their first appointment, so they connect the visit to the dentist with something positive. Maybe they get to choose a reading book or small toy as a reward; or you go to the playground immediately after the appointment. This might also take their mind off the check-up as they will look forward to what happens later that day.

Good dental hygiene and getting a regular check-up at the dentist is not only important for lifelong dental health, but it also helps prevent a range of other health issues. If your child needs any orthodontic procedures carried out, such as braces fitted, it’s also important to catch this as early as possible in their development.

More importantly a fear of something can have a lifelong negative impact on children and adults alike, so the more you can do to alleviate odontophobia early on, the more positive experience the child will have with their dental health as they grow up.

Children’s Fear of the Dentist