When you have a small child who is afraid of the dentist, it can make visits to receive good oral care difficult and even traumatic. If your child is afraid of getting dental care, it is important to make sure that you take their fears seriously while helping them overcome them. Small children’s fears are very real to them, and if you do not help them quell these fears now, you will find that it is something that can follow them throughout their entire lives.
Identify the Fears
First, talk to your child about why they are afraid. The ability to verbalize their fears and to learn more about how to explain themselves will only be helpful for your child in the future, and you will discover that this is something that can help them express themselves. Are they afraid the process is going to hurt them? Are they worried that they will be teased or that they will gag? Talking with your child is an important first step.
Explain What Is Going to Happen
Small children have very little core knowledge of various procedures. At this point, they are still gathering a lot of data. Fear of the unknown is a very real and logical thing for a child. Take a moment to talk with your child about what he or she can expect at the office. Tell them about how the doctor will first examine their teeth and then clean them.
Ask the Dentist for Help
When you go to visit the dentist, ask the person in charge to explain his or her tools to the child. A professional who has a fair amount of experience with children will know how to explain the tools in a way that will not frighten the child.
Teach Your Child About Hand Signals
It is perfectly okay for a child to want to take a break during a lengthy cleaning procedure. This is something that can help them feel more in control of their office visits. The person in charge will tell them that if they need to stop the procedure in the middle, they can raise their hand. This gives your child a way to stop and take a breath if things are getting too overwhelming.
Explain the Need for a Visit
The issue with small children is that they often do not understand why things are happening to them. When they are infants, you can simply do as you like without any explanation, but as they grow, they should have explanations when they ask for them or when they are confused. Tell your child about why the visit is so important, and how their dental health is connected to their general health as well. A child who understands why the visit is so important will be much more willing to go.
When your child is afraid of dentistry, you do not need to be helpless in the face of it. There are many things that you can do to make the situation easier on your child and on you, so think about what your options are.