3 Tips For Helping Kids Overcome Their Fear Of The Dentist

Do you dread taking your child to the dentist? Does the process of getting your child into the chair take longer than the actual dentist appointment? If your child is like most children and expresses a fear of visiting the family dentist, don't worry; there are ways to help him or her. Listed below are three tips for helping kids overcome their fear of the dentist:

1. Increase Exposure

One of the reasons many children fear the dentist is because they are unsure of what to expect when they visit. By taking advantage of the many children's books about going to the dentist, you can help prepare your child for the experience. They'll be able to see their favorite characters in the same position they will be in, and they'll likely start to see that there is nothing to worry about. Another way to increase exposure is by taking your child to the dentist office to meet their dentist and the other staff members. They'll get to see where they'll be sitting and that the office is a friendly, welcoming place.

2. Create a Positive Association

Help your child create a positive association with the dentist by letting them know what they have to gain by being brave and well-behaved. Many dentists offer small rewards to their younger patients, or you can create your own reward system for when they go to the dentist without complaining. Note, though, that the reward does not have to be large or expensive for you. Cooking their favorite dinner or watching a movie they like at home are simple, inexpensive ways to create a positive association.

3. Be Honest

When it comes to parenting, there is a fine line between phrasing things in a way that does not scare your child and being dishonest. It is tempting to tell your child comforting things: that they won't feel any pain, that nothing bad will happen, etc. However, this can be more harmful than helpful for your child. If you tell him or her that they won't feel any pain and then they do feel pain at the dentist's office, they may lose trust in you and the dentist. If your child asks you questions about the dentist, answer them honestly, although you don't need to go into great detail about what their visit will be like, as everyone experiences the dentist differently.

A visit to the dentist doesn't have to be stressful for you or for your child. Follow the three tips above to help ease his or her anxiety, and be sure to let them know of the benefits that come with healthy, clean teeth. Your child (and you) will be smiling in no time!