Feeling nervous about visiting the dentist is very common for adults and children alike! Here’s some advice for how you, as a parent, can help your children feel better about her upcoming appointment.
Talk about it.
Talk to your child about the appointment using age appropriate language. It's a good idea to avoid going into specifics if your child is quite young. Simply explain that they dentist will look in her mouth and count her teeth, and make sure that they’re all healthy.
However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be honest about what will happen at the dentist’s office, if your child asks you a question about it.
For example, if your child asks you if the dentist will do anything that hurts, you don’t want to say “no”, and then have something a little painful happen. This just diminishes trust, and could make the anxiety worse ahead of future appointments.
The trick is to soften your language; dental appointments rarely involve pain, and you can make that clear. Try saying something like, "you may feel a poke or a pinch during your checkup, and some things may feel a little uncomfortable, but it won't last long. And you can always tell the dentist if you need a break!"
There are all sorts of great books, videos and other resources available that can help you prepare your child for a visit to the dentist.
Many of these are specifically designed to put children at ease about this experience.
Avoid communicating your own anxieties.
Adults often feel anxious about visiting the dentist, for a wide range of reasons. Some people have had negative dental experiences in the past. Others have a fear of needles, and others still simply hate the invasive feeling that comes with having someone poking around in their mouths!
If you feel uneasy about visiting the dentist, it’s perfectly understandable! But in order to prevent passing these feelings on to your child, it's best to avoid letting on about them, if you can.
Ultimately, you want your children to feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible at the prospect of visiting the dentist. If they find out that their brave, confident mom or dad gets nervous about visiting the dentist, they might think they have something to be worried about, too.
If your child asks you directly about your dental experiences, you don’t have to lie, but it may be helpful to change the perspective a bit:
“Yes, I sometimes feel a little nervous about visiting the dentist. But I know my dentist always does a really good job, and I trust him completely.”
Talk to us.
During the appointment, before treatment begins, our dentists will be happy to sit down with you and your child to talk about whatever fears she has about the appointment.
We do this with families on a regular basis, so we know exactly what to say! Plus, talking to us ahead of time means we’ll know what’s bothering your child, and we can take steps throughout treatment to put her at ease.