How to Reduce Your Child’s Fears About Going to the Dentist

Happy dentist and little boy making punch bump

Some people fear going to the dentist because they think it will be painful. This is a common fear, and there are a few ways that dentists and parents can help children deal with it. One way is to explain to the child what will happen during the visit, step by step. This can help them understand that there is nothing to be afraid of. 

Another way is to let the child choose a “dental buddy” to accompany them to their appointment. This can be a stuffed animal or a parent. Having someone else there can help the child feel more comfortable. Check out our other tips below.

Opt for a Family Dentist

Dentists who work with families and children are more in tune with children’s anxiety. Adult medical facilities tend to have a more sterile and foreboding environment. A dental office specializing in family care will usually have a more fun and comforting environment; more importantly, the staff will know how to interact with your kids.

Familiarize Your Child With the Dentist

The fear of the unknown is a common psychological phenomenon. The less we know about something, the more anxious we tend to feel. This is why it can be helpful for parents to talk to their children about the dentist. By doing this, kids can become more familiar with the doctor-patient relationship and feel more comfortable during their dental visits. 

It’s important to explain to children why each procedure is vital for keeping their teeth clean and healthy. With this understanding, they can feel more confident at the dentist.

Do Not Resort to Negative Reinforcement

Children often learn that good behavior is rewarded and bad behavior is punished. Often, this can lead to kids thinking that getting a filling is a punishment for not taking care of their teeth. While it is important to understand the connection between oral care and cavities, it is also essential to realize that it is okay to have a cavity. 

It is recommended that kids are taught that brushing and flossing regularly decrease the likelihood of developing a cavity. In addition, reducing sugary and acidic foods and drinks, such as soda and candy, can also lower the risk. Fillings are not a punishment but a procedure that helps keep our teeth healthy. Children should not be embarrassed about having one. 

In fact, some kids with poor oral habits may not get cavities, while some kids with good oral habits do. The best way to prevent cavities is by brushing and flossing regularly, but everyone’s teeth are different, so children should not see fillings as anything other than a helpful way to protect their teeth.

Utilize Positive Reinforcement

It is crucial to be cautious with how you use positive reinforcement; however, it can be beneficial. Something as small as making the dental visit more enjoyable is a great place to start. This is why dentists give out dental stickers and other prizes to small children to celebrate good oral health. But it is essential to steer clear of bribery. Bribing your child is, in a sense, agreeing that a dentist is a terrible place that needs bribery to make it better.

Never Lie to Your Child

Some parents may lie to their children about going to the dentist to prevent them from feeling anxious or stressed about the visit. However, this can actually damage the trust between the parent and child. It is important to be honest with children and explain what will happen at the dentist’s so that they feel prepared and comfortable.

Conclusion

If your child is afraid of the dentist, there are a few things you can do to help ease their fears. Following these tips can help reduce your child’s fears of the dentist and make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Are you looking for children’s dentistry in Herndon? Trust Galleria Dental Smiles. We provide quality dental care to patients in the Herndon and Northern VA area, focusing on a comprehensive approach to oral health. Book an appointment.

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