At some point, most of us are going to end up in a dentist's chair. Thatís a pretty depressing thought, because no one likes going to the dentist. Did you know thereís actually a name for being afraid of dentists? Odontophobia is a bad enough affliction to suffer from as an adult, but for children it can be downright terrifying. Being made to sit in an uncomfortable chair in a bright, sterile room while a stranger in a face mask pokes about in your mouth with all sorts of pointy contraptions is no laughing matter. The bad news is that dentist visits arenít going away anytime soon. As long as humans have teeth, weíre going to have to look after them. The good news is that there are a host of ways you can make a trip to the dentists a whole lot less scary for the kids. Hereís how.
Start Ďem young.
Thereís nothing better for preventing the development of a fear of something that getting used to it young in life. Kidís should ideally have their first dental checkup before they turn two. By the time theyíre four or five they wonít even remember that first visit and itíll feel like theyíve been visiting their good friend the dentist forever.
Choose the right dentist.
Just because you like chatting to your dentist about the footy scores doesnít mean sheís necessarily the best person to look after your kidís teeth as well. Pediatric dentists specialise in childrenís dentistry. That doesnít just mean they choose to only look after childrenís teeth, it means theyíve done further study and training in order to become experts in making the dentist experience as enjoyable as possible for little ones.
Make it a game.
Before a child even has their first dentist appointment, make a game out of it using stuffed toys or your own teeth. Help your kids count their own teeth and turn the whole idea of ďgoing to the dentistísĒ into a game. Kids will often play ďdoctorĒ so try getting them playing ďdentistĒ as well to normalise the entire process.
If youíre scared of the dentists yourself and you regularly bemoan the fact that you have to go, your own kids will quickly notice your fear and adopt it themselves. Try to stay quiet on the topic so a not to associate the word dentist with pain or fear.
Regular dental visits are key to making sure kids donít fear the dentists. This isnít just down to getting them used to the place, itís also because if the only time they visit a dentist is when thereís something wrong, theyíll soon start to associate it with the unpleasant experiences theyíve had with their teeth. Regular six month checkups will quickly become routine, and since these visits will nearly always involve nothing more than a brief check, the fear factor will dissipate.
Donít give up.
If your child has already developed a fear of dentists, donít indulge this fear by caving into their protestations against going for a visit. Donít avoid making appointments because you know it will end in strife between you and your child. Try your best to develop a routine and start the process of negating the fear theyíve already developed. The younger they are when you do this, the better the results will be. If you donít, then they could easily carry the fear into adulthood.
Donít say it might hurt.
Nothing is more guaranteed to put a kidís fear into overdrive than telling them something might hurt in advance. Thereís simply no need to say anything or the sort, as it wonít do anything for the pain, of which there might not even be any! Warning your children that going to the dentistís might be painful will do nothing but foster apprehension.