Many children fear the dentist. Even if a child has never heard a scary dentist story, a dentist’s workroom can be a frightening place for him or her. Children see the chair and multiple armed lighting apparatus as twice their size. It could appear to be some type of many armed monster to a child. Add to that the vulnerability of lying back in a chair and allowing a person with a mask on to put whizzing, spitting tools into your mouth and you’ve got a kids’ nightmare!
This is a lot for a parent to overcome. There are a few ways that you can help your child get through this rite of passage:
1. Preparation – This is a big one. Begin by reading books to your child at a young age. Libraries have many children’s books specifically for easing fears about the dentist. When a child knows ahead of time what he or she can expect, it can be a little bit less scary. Explain to your child each part of the process. Tell them about the roles of the dental assistant, the dentist, and the tools. This will ease their fears about multiple people standing over them while in the chair.
2. Control – Let your child know that they can come up for air any time and make sure that the dentist follows through on this. Work with the dentist to develop a signal such as tapping the chair, to avoid the child popping up out of the chair of fear. No one likes to feel out of control. It is a scary feeling and one of the biggest contributors to fear of the dentist, even in adults!
3. Patience – Children’s dentists are supposed to be inherently patient. Sadly, this is not always the case. Find a dentist through word of mouth via the internet or family and friends. Google is a great help. For example, google a phrase such as “Dentist for children El Paso“. Ask other parent’s in the waiting room how often they have been to this dentist and how patient he or she has been. If you receive a lot of negative feedback, you may need to go elsewhere.
4. Books – Take the children’s book with you to the dentist. Read it in the waiting room and in the chair while waiting for the dentist with your child. Compare the dentist office and tools of dentistry in the room you are in with the ones in the book.
5. Props – Utilize the dentist tools such as kids’ sunglasses and scented nose cones for gas.
6. Rewards – Every kid loves to get a prize after getting through such a stressful situation. This will give them something to focus on and work towards while in the chair.