Dental anxiety, or a fear of going to the dentist, is one of the most common childhood fears, next to being in the dark, or possibly spiders! But unlike the other two, going to the dentist is a fundamentally important and necessary aspect of life, in order to have good dental health. When going to the dentist is a scary and stressful experience, it can be a lot more challenging to encourage kids to look after their teeth, but thankfully, it is possible to help them manage this fear. Read on for some suggestions on how to make the experience less frightening for them.
Pretend play being a dentist and patient
Play isn’t just a trivial activity when you’re younger. It is in fact one of the most important ways that children learn skills and gain experience of the world around them, and it can also be a really helpful way of understanding frightening subjects, or overcoming fears.
While playing “doctor” is quite a common and fun childhood game, playing “dentist” is less familiar. However, with some child-sized pretend tools, outfits and a good dose of creative imagination, it can be a wonderful way to help younger children understand and anticipate what to expect at the dentist, reducing their fear of what may happen when they get there.
Communicate to the dentist beforehand
All dentists, such as bafdentistry.com, want the best for their patients, and will do whatever they can to make the experience more comfortable. If there are specific accommodations that might make the experience less stressful, then it is worth having a discussion with the dental practice beforehand, so that you and they can take steps to make it a more enjoyable session.
For example, it might be helpful for your child to know how long the appointment is going to carry on for, or what kind of tools may be used. They may also like to take regular breaks, especially for longer sessions, to allow them time to pause and relax. Discussing these things beforehand with both the dentist and your child can help to relieve worries, and make the appointment go a lot more smoothly.
Build a familiar routine
Once you have found a dental practice that you and your family are happy with, it’s best to start a routine of regular visits as soon as possible. Rather than leaving appointments on an ad hoc basis, aim to create as much familiar structure as you can. Having a consistent and repeated pattern can make difficult experiences less stressful for both children and adults alike, as you can anticipate what is ahead of you.
You may like to have a fixed time slot for appointments, or a relaxing routine before and after the appointment. It’s also best to stick to the same person as far as is possible, so that your child can build a relationship of trust with them by seeing them each time.