Sometimes, taking a child to the dentist can create more anxiety for the parent than for the child. Unfortunately, if a parent shows stress or fear over a trip to the dentist, those emotions are often transmitted to the child. In order to keep your child (and yourself) free of dental anxiety, consider implementing the following tips.
Before You Go
If a parent has had a negative experience with the dentist – including having had dental procedures done – the first instinct can be to try and forewarn the child about what “may” occur. However, these warnings usually only serve to increase a child’s fear and anxiety about visiting a dentist. Instead of telling war stories about your root canal, try to talk to your child in positive tones and words about the trip to the dentist. One great idea is to read a children’s book together that is focused on a child’s (or bears, etc.) trip to the dentist. This will give your child an idea of what to expect in a delightful and entertaining way.
While You Are There
One of the greatest sources of anxiety can be when you learn that your child is in need of a procedure beyond a normal cleaning. In these cases, it is best to let the dentist explain the procedure to your child. A pediatric dentist is specially trained to work with children and to talk to them about dental procedures in a way that they will understand. If you have any questions that involve words like “pain” or “hurt”, ask to speak to the dentist privately so that your child does not hear them. Assure your child that you will always be nearby throughout the procedure, while being careful to stay out of the dentist’s way.
After You Leave
Many dentists will reward their patients with new toothbrushes or stickers. Congratulate your child on earning a reward and give special attention to any of their items. If your child needed an extra procedure, reward their bravery by allowing them some extra TV time or by taking a walk together. Use this time to bond with your child and to reinforce the many positive reasons why the dentist is important in keeping his or her mouth clean and healthy.
If you continue to suffer from parental dental anxiety, talk to your pediatric dentist. He will be able to counsel you with recommended activities and actions for your trip that will help keep you and your child stress-free.