What to do if the child is afraid of the dentist?
“No!!!! I’m not going to the dentist!!!” Screaming, 5-year-old Marcel tears himself away from his mom’s hand and flees up the stairs to the dentist’s office. Quite a few children react with fear and terror when a visit to the dentist is on the schedule. But why is this and how can parents help their offspring in such a situation?
Read also: Taking the child to the dentist
Fears can have many causes
No one is born with dental fear. This develops only with the experiences that a child makes. Reports from parents, acquaintances or friends also contribute to how children evaluate a visit to the dentist. If mom or dad go to the dentist with feelings of panic, the little ones naturally think that nothing good will happen behind the dentist’s door. The sounds and smells at the dentist can also be frightening for the child, as long as he or she is unable to categorize them. The team of a dental practice, which is specialized in the treatment of the small patients, can contribute substantially to decrease fears or not let arise at all.
Important: treatment appropriate for children
Small children are curious by nature. A fact that is wonderfully suited to getting kids used to the dentist. The first visit to the dentist’s office is crucial and can set the course for how the youngster looks forward to the upcoming prophylaxis or treatment appointments in the future. It is advisable for this to take place as early as possible – when the child does not yet have any complaints. The dentist and the parents should allow plenty of time for the first appointment and give the child the opportunity to discover everything at his or her leisure. Taking a seat in the dentist’s chair is not yet compulsory – but it is still fun for the kids to ride up and down on it like in an elevator. And then there’s all the equipment! I wonder what they can do with all that? The drill buzzes like a plump bumblebee, the air blower becomes a funny puffing wind, and the operating light becomes a shining sun. Explained in a child-friendly way, many things in the dental practice lose their frightening aura.
A sibling is coming
With little aids to a successful visit to the dentist
If this opportunity to slowly get used to the dentist is missed and the child has already had unpleasant experiences due to a bad role model or an insensitive dentist, a lot of patience and sensitivity is required. Sometimes the child’s own dentist is already the right one, but under certain circumstances it may also make sense to contact another practice together with the child. From the experience of other parents, it is often possible to find a kind dentist who is very responsive to children and able to take away their fear. Arrange for the first appointment only a conversation and not yet a treatment. This way, the child can take a look at the practice in peace and does not yet have to fear that the drill or the pliers will be used. And when the time comes, it often helps quite a bit if the child can sit on mom’s lap while the doctor performs the treatment. In practice, a pre-arranged hand signal has proven to be effective, on which the dentist interrupts the treatment at any time if necessary. Of course, this requires some patience on the part of the practice team, but it pays off in the long run. It gives the young patient the feeling that he or she is not being ignored and is involved in the treatment.
Own Fear of the dentist sets a bad example
But what do you do if you yourself, as a mother or father, are trembling with fear and your hands get clammy as soon as you take your seat in the waiting room of the dentist’s office? The best dentist is of no use here if the child experiences his or her parents as fearful or even panicky in this situation. Save yourself and your offspring this disaster then and rather ask the grandparents, the godmother or a dear and trusted friend to accompany your child to the dentist. Even if this seems strange at first glance, it helps to give children a positive or at least neutral attitude towards going to the dentist.
Yes – you did it!
Days before the appointment, children are already preoccupied with going to the dentist. Parents should seize this opportunity and explain the treatment to their offspring in an age-specific way. Stories about the tooth man can be used, or picture books about a healthy diet and the importance of a well-cared-for set of teeth. The prospect of a small reward can also help young patients get through a difficult appointment. Whether prophylaxis or necessary treatment: with every successful visit to the dentist, the fear disappears a little more and gives way to a nice feeling of pride. And the little patients can certainly be proud, because we adults usually know too well with what mixed feelings we enter the practice.
Dental anxiety in children is widespread. However, the chances are not bad to give the little patients with a lot of calm and patience the necessary confidence that the visit to the dentist is really good to master.
[Please note: Our articles cannot replace the advice of a doctor. In case of health problems, please always consult a doctor you trust].