How To Help A Child With Dental Fear
Many children suffer from dental fear, making them extremely anxious before appointments. As a parent, this can be upsetting to see, as well as worrying. However, as this short guide explains, there are a few steps you can take to help your child overcome their dental fear.
Help Them Take Care of Their Teeth
For a child with dental fear, one of the most effective things you can do is to help them take care of their teeth. This makes it less likely that they will need dental work, which might increase their fear, as well as helping them to feel like they have some degree of control over what happens at the dentist. The NHS explains that you should be supervising your child's brushing until they are around eight years old, making sure they're not missing any areas and are brushing for long enough. You should make sure you are giving them appropriate toothpaste and gently educate them on what foods are good for their teeth.
Tackle Their Underlying Fear
Dental fear arises for many different reasons, and you will be more able to help your child if you know what the root of their fear is. For example, a study by the University of Adelaide explains that dental fear often arises as a response to powerlessness, in which case you may want to explain to your child that the dentist will listen to them and will stop and give them a break if required. Your child may be frightened because they are worried about the condition or their teeth or that they may get told off. Whatever the cause of their fear, it's good to find out so that you can gently calm their fears.
Make Dentist Appointments as Easy as Possible
If your child is scared of dental appointments, you can at least take steps to make appointments as easy as possible. Choose appointments in the morning so they have less time to worry, be cheerful about the appointment and plan something fun as a treat afterwards. If you feel it would help, speak to your dentist and receptionist beforehand so that they are aware of your child's worries. WebMD suggests that you may want to take your child to a special paediatric dentist, whose office and manner are more likely to put your child at ease.
By following the simple tips above, you can help your child to attend dental appointments without fear. Many children grow out of this fear or develop their own coping strategies, but in the meantime, these methods will help you to calm their fears.