Being afraid of dentists is one of the most common phobias among adults – and that can quickly get passed on to children. However, many children find their way to dental phobia when their parents are OK with the dentist. After all, it is a strange thing to have a gloved hand and sharp tools in your mouth; it doesn’t feel natural – but it is important.
So, if you have a child who experiences a little or a lot of dental anxiety, here are some things that you can do to help.
Do you send your little one off to brush their teeth and do a quick check at the end? It can be a good idea to change that for a while. Let your child see your full dental routine that includes flossing, mouth washing, tongue scrubbing, and more. This more vigorous type of cleaning isn’t just good for their teeth, but it’s going to be that they’re used to having more than just a toothbrush in there.
Watch Dental ASMR
Yes, ASMR is everywhere right now – but one of the best things is that they do role-playing. Spend some time to find a dental ASMR role play, watch it, and make sure it is a gentle one. Watching it with your child and following along with the instructions.
For those who don’t like the quiet nature of ASMR, get yourself a dental playset and roleplay with your child. You pretend to be the dentist and then let them do it. Not only is it fun, but it will get them used to the strange feeling of having their teeth counted and looked at with a mirror.
Meet and Greet
Before a first appointment, ask the dental office if you can visit with your child. It means that they will not be overwhelmed with the smells, people, and the general feel of the dentist’s office. And if possible, ask if they can meet the dentist who would be doing their check-ups.
Not all dentist’s offices will be open to meet and greet, so make sure that you explain that your child has some dental anxiety, and they might accommodate.
For some children, it isn’t just worrying about the unknown; there are sensory issues that mean it is much more difficult for them to have a regular check-up. You can discuss these with your dentist and make them aware of the issues specific to your child.
Many parents and guardians get upset and stressed when their child is ‘acting out,’ but in the middle of a dental appointment, this can make the child even more upset and make the routine check-up more of an ordeal.
So, work on being relaxed and understanding – and avoid getting stressed and working up yourself. Your words matter greatly in all circumstances, but in these ones, perhaps even more so, learn how to say the right thing: Parents, Your Words Matter.
Dental check-ups are a must for everyone, and prevention is certainly better than cure for dental care.