We all know someone who is scared of the dentist, don’t we?
When it comes to being frightened or anxious the likelihood is that it has developed as a response to a past experience. Fear and anxiety are natural human responses that keep us safe and alive, however, they can become irrational and uncontrollable without help.
It is for this very reason we strongly believe that both you and your child should have a calm, enjoyable and relaxing visit to the dentist, to prevent uncontrollable anxiety developing around future dentist visits. All our staff are trained in dealing with nervous patients who need a little encouragement to come for that check-up or filling. We feel really strongly about looking after our nervous patients as the risk of getting this first experience wrong can lead to the avoidance of dental care, poor dental and oral health education and the inability to get any problems rectified at an early stage.
A visit to the dentist is as much a parent’s responsibility as it is the dentist’s. We are sure that when oral hygiene is taking place at home in a fun, enjoyable way this can be translated to when the child visits us in the practice. There are many ways to make oral hygiene fun at home by focusing on positive encouragement of brushing for a specific time. Talking about the method of brushing. Blending together ideas from both yourself and the child. Using flavoured toothpaste, textured brushes and utilising electric toothbrushes for over 3 year olds.
Here are some tips and tricks to encourage your child to become relaxed about their first visits:
Start them at a young age if you can. The best time for the child to start to visit the dentist is around 12-18 months old.
When preparing for your visit, especially for the first time, try not to include so many details, doing so could raise many more questions, and adding more details may create anxiety.
Keep a positive attitude when discussing an upcoming appointment, but don’t give false hope by saying things like ‘everything will be fine, you won’t need any treatment because if your child ends up needing treatment, they may lose trust in both you AND the dentist.
Use ideas such as the dentist wanting to count the number of teeth you have in your mouth.
Be careful with your words:
- Try to avoid using words like Injections, Pain, Drills, or anything alarming. Our staff will introduce their own vocabulary to children to get them through their visits.
- You can try to let your child know that the dentist wants to check their smile is big and shiny enough or that we need to see how well they have been brushing.
Prepare for fuss:
- It is completely normal for a young child to cry, whine, wiggle and not want to be examined by a stranger. As the parent you should try to stay calm as the child can pick up on your own anxiety. Remember that we are used to working with children and have seen many anxious and active children that do not want to sit in the dental chair. As dental professionals let us guide you in order to offer them some reassurance.
Emphasise the importance of good oral hygiene:
- Teach your child that visiting the dentist is a necessity, not a choice and that we will take care of their teeth so that they will stay strong throughout their life.
It is important that their visit is a friendly one and so even if we haven’t got an opportunity to look in their mouth. Your child has visited the sounds and smells of a dental surgery without being forced or restrained into an examination. The next time they visit you will find that they are more accommodating.
This will be less stressful each time you bring your child for a visit. Another way of helping a child’s fear is to bring them along to an appointment of your own. They take subtle cues from parents and so it is vital to keep your body language relaxed.
Once a child sees that there is nothing to fear and that mummy or daddy are happy to attend, any fears they have will subside. You are their role model and their teacher. Your child will take into account how relaxed you are during your examination & react in the same way (hopefully).