We have to admit, even adults have fears of getting poked or prodded anywhere on our body so what more in our mouth, and what more for our kids? A dental appointment is something we want to erase in our calendars, but it is something that we cannot do without. For children, dental phobia is very common, and we see children screaming and kicking while on a dental chair. Some dentists even need work out in the gym to combat these little martial artists. It is our duty as parents to make them understand that oral health is as important as having good eyesight or healthy body.
Kids nowadays are very smart and curious. They want to know how things work for them to truly understand why they need to do something we ask them to do or undergo.
Here are some tips on how to manage your kids’ dental anxiety.
1. Make the dentist a superhero.
Children will not do things just because they are told to do so. It is important that parents explain why they are doing things that are asked of them to do especially dental procedures. Let them know the importance of having oral health. You can be very creative and use the “storytelling” technique. “Once upon a time, there was a princess who had a very beautiful smile. Her smile was so pretty that everyone in the kingdom loved to see her…” then inject that magic word- DENTIST. Make the dentist the superhero in the story. This will make them look at dentists positively. You will instill in their minds that dentists do not hurt them, rather make them pretty and healthy. Then they live happily ever after.
2. Give them real evidence and proofs.
Yes, that’s right! Evidence and proofs. They may not buy it when you say that Spongebob has good teeth because he goes to the dentist. You need to show them real people with real teeth just like them. Show them photos of girls and boys flashing their pearly whites and let them realize how happy they are of having such beautiful teeth and not having to worry about tooth decay because they visit their superhero dentists regularly. They may ask, “What will happen if I don’t go?“. Then show them some not–too–gross pictures of teeth turning black and yellow so that they have an idea that this is true and can happen to them too. I would be too scared to have such teeth, don’t you? But, I suggest to always do positive reinforcements. If it’s not necessary, do not show them the ugly truth just yet.
3. Don’t scare them away.
Children who already have dental anxiety tend to be closed minded and shut their ears to whatever you say. That’s because they already have a bad experience before. So it is important not to send the child to the dentist when it is time to insert a needle or extract a tooth. You may start visiting the clinic several times just to have the dentist check on their teeth and tell them how nice their teeth are and it’s important to take care of them. Then, next visit, you may have their teeth cleaned at the same time having the dentist examine on what procedure is needed to be done the next time you visit if there are serious situations to be addressed. Then before the next visit, let the kids know what to expect and explain why it needs to be done. Having knowledge of what to expect and knowing the importance make it less dramatic and makes them pretend to be really strong and then proud of themselves after. Don’t scare them away by going to the dentist only when it is time for the pain. This will make dentists the villain.
4. Give them time to relax.
Wait for the time that they are ready. Give them time to calm down and chill. When you go out of the house, take them somewhere else first like a trip to the mall or the toy shop before going directly to the dental clinic. And when you’re there, have them play with those false teeth dentists always have in their clinics. I bet there’s no clinic that does not have those false teeth displayed on their reception desk. This is good while waiting for your turn to the dental room. Promise that you will give them a treat once it is done and tell them how brave they are and how proud you are of them. Then, let them sit on the dental chair for a while and just have them sink it in. Dentists play a good role in this, most dentists know this already and have their own technique with children, and you don’t really have to worry about it. These are what dentists at Omni Dental are great at.
5. Be a role model.
You cannot convince your kids not to be afraid of dentists if you are dreading your own appointments and if they see how reluctant you are to get on that dental chair. Most dental anxieties in children are from what they see with their parents. In the first place, where will they get the idea that dental care would be so much frightening if they do not see it from anyone?
6. Time for that treat!
As a kid, I’ve always looked forward to having a tooth taken out because it means that I will be having ice cream of my choice of flavor and assortments after. It does not have to be ice cream, but they say that ice cream helps with stopping the blood from your gums. You may also ask your child what treat or trinkets they want so they can also look forward to dentist days with excitement!
These are only tips on how to manage your kids’ dental anxiety. If your child has severe dental anxiety, you may always consult a professional, and you may need to contact a therapist in your area. There are so many dentists with their own specializations and it’s important to know where to look. TSMC helps dentists reach their patients so you can be sure that you are in good hands.