What To Do When Your Child Is Afraid Of Going To The Dentist

Posted on: 26 July 2018

Fear is a common and healthy emotion among children. In fact, fear regulates humans' fight or flight response to either fight or escape danger—a mechanism that keeps your child safe. Unfortunately, many children are afraid of going to the dentist, and their anxiety makes it difficult for the parents to ensure their child's oral health. You don't have to worry though. Here are some steps in helping your child overcome his or her anxiety the next time they're set to receive family dental care:

Communicate with Your Child

As a parent, the best thing you can do is to communicate with your child. You need to explain the importance of oral health and the urgent need to go to the dentist if problems such as cavities start to emerge. Likewise, you also have to listen to your child whenever she expresses her fear and anxiety. Acknowledge her fears and assure her that her anxiety is sensible. Answer her questions and address her concerns, but know the right words to say. However, avoid using "pain," "hurt," "injection," and other words that will heighten your child's fears. You can frame your conversation about the appointment as an "adventure" that you will go through together.

Walk Your Talk

Keep in mind though that you can't reassure your child if you're being anxious too. It is understandable if you would feel nervous too. Acknowledge your fears too and talk yourself out of your anxiety. Try reaching out to other parents who had the same experience before. Take note, however, that every child and child-parent relationship is different. Nonetheless, you can take cues from their advice and tell your child how another child overcame his fear of dentists.

Prepare for Whining and Tantrums

At the day of the visit, you still have to prepare yourself for some whining and tantrums. It is normal for your child to be afraid when a stranger talks to her, and even more if this stranger would examine her teeth. Avoid being fidgety at the day of the visit. Stay calm when your child starts whining or crying. Do not lose self-composure as you may need to comfort your child or even restrain her for the dental examination to push through.

Rest assured, your pediatric dentist can help you in reassuring and comforting your child. If you recognize that your child has severe anxiety, you can meet with your dentist in advance for you to plan the visit more carefully.