Five Tips for Helping Children Overcome a Fear of the Dentist

child opening wide in dental chair

ALPHARETTA, GA – Very few people view a trip to the dentist’s office as something to look forward to. The event is rife with anxiety for these people who find the bright lights, prone position and probing hands of the dental hygienist too much to handle all at once. How can these same people make going to the dentist a positive experience for their children?

Going to the dentist regularly is essential to maintaining good oral hygiene for strong, healthy teeth. The dentist can give your child a deep cleaning that gets rid of any plaque buildup that can’t be reached normally. During dental exams, problems such as cavities can be diagnosed early on and treated before they become a big problem, too. We understand, however, that going to the dentist can be scary for kids. That’s why Dr. Nanna Ariaban, an Alpharetta kid’s dentist who loves working with children, offers these five tips for making their dentist visits fear-free.

1 – Be a model. Children are very intuitive and will feed off the emotions their parents are experiencing. It is important to try and not transfer your own dental anxiety to them by speaking in a slow, calm tone. You should also avoid sharing negative dental stories from your own childhood. Letting them accompany you for your own dental visits can also be helpful. When your children see that you view a trip to the dentist as routine and normal, they are more likely to approach it the same way.

2 – Be prepared. Help young children prepare for their first visits by reading books about visiting the dentist. If your child is older, this strategy can still work because there are many books and online resources available to prepare their minds for dental work. It is also a good idea to browse Dr. Nanna’s Pinterest board, “Dental Education for Kids,” to find more ideas to help prepare your child for dental work without fear.

3 – Be consistent. When children go to the dentist regularly, they become more comfortable with the idea. Only taking your child in for a cleaning every other year is going to make the dentist seem like some scary thing to be avoided. Also, by being consistent, it is more likely your pediatric dentist can catch small problems and prevent them from becoming bigger ones. When they are used to having dental fluoride at each visit, the sticky feeling is not a surprise to them. Familiarity with the dentist empowers a child to know what to expect each time they visit.

4 – Be early. This does not mean show up for an appointment an hour early; instead, it means start taking your child to the dentist when they are young. Alpharetta pediatric dentist, Dr. Nanna, and the American Dental Association recommend that a child have their first dental visit by the time they are 1 year old. More than anything, these early visits are meant to establish a rapport with the pediatric dentist you select. They help your child become accustomed to someone investigating the inside of their mouth and to become comfortable in the environment of a dentist’s office.

5 – Be honest. It is important to tell your children the truth about what is going to happen, while remembering that there are age-appropriate ways to explain what is happening. Dr. Nanna has trained her staff to explain the procedure to children in kid-friendly terms. That means a child getting a shot will be told their tooth is getting some “sleepy juice” or nitrous oxide might be referred to as happy air. An experienced Pediatric Dentist in Roswell like Dr. Nanna will make sure that a child understands what is happening, but she would explain the procedure differently to the parent and the child, based on their ability to understand and process the information. Questions from children are always welcome as well.

Often, fear of the dentist builds up in children because of the many unknowns they find when they walk through the doors of the dentist’s office. As their parent, you can use these tools to educate and prepare your child so that all of their dental visits are good experiences, including the ones with kid’s dental fillings, and all they remember the next day is the new toothbrush and sticker they earned for being such a good patient.

© 2018 Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry, an Alpharetta pediatric dentist, is credited as sole source.