Most children feel nervous about going to the dentist. Lots of adults do, too! Dental anxiety is a completely normal feeling but, as a child, it can feel overwhelming. Whilst you might be able to grin and bear it, sitting through uncomfortable situations might be challenging for your child. However, children need to go to the dentist to ensure they have good oral health, and therefore you need to help them with their dental anxiety. So, what can you do?

Get them a good dentist

A good, friendly and empathetic dentist will certainly help ease your child’s anxiety – such as those at Weybridge Dental, which is seen as the best dentist in Weybridge. So, find a dentist who’s good with children. Ask fellow parents at your child’s school, check out online reviews and do your research. If your dentist doesn’t put your child at ease when they’re in the chair, they’ll be worried about their next appointment and their dental anxiety will escalate. 

Communication

Communicating as a family is key to addressing any worries or fears that your child may have, and this certainly extends to their dental anxiety. The key is to tell your child that they have a dentist appointment, and explain why it’s important that they go. You might be tempted to leave it to the last minute so they worry less, but children need routine and predictability in their lives to process and adjust to unfamiliar situations. Telling them in advance also allows time for them to ask you any questions they might have and prepare themselves mentally for the appointment.  

Hide your own discomfort

Whilst communication is key, it’s important that you don’t pass on your fear of the dentist to your child. Children can inherit their parents’ fears, and if they see you avoiding dental appointments or squirming in the chair they’ll be tempted to do the same. It’s also important not to tell them any horror stories of pain, tooth removal or anything similar as this could spook them. Instead, empathise with your child’s feelings and tell them that you understand what they’re going through. 

Treats and rewards

Whilst you may not want to reward your children with sugary snacks after their trip to the dentist, offering a treat or reward for their bravery can be effective. Children respond well to reward systems, and therefore a treat may help when your child is struggling with dental anxiety. Reward charts, stickers and positive reinforcement always goes down well, or you could promise your child a trip to the cinema or a fun day out if they make it through their appointment. 

Start at home

Your child needs a dentist appointment because they need to have good oral hygiene. If you start this at home and encourage an effective and regular brushing technique, your child might be less worried about the “painful” consequences of their appointment. When a child feels confident that their dental hygiene is good, their trip to the dentist will more likely be full of positivity and praise, instead of any necessary daunting treatment. 

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Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.

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