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4 Tips for Keeping Your Child's Dentist Visits Tear Free
Posted on 08/11/2015

4 Tips for Keeping Your Child's Dentist Visits Tear Free

ae8eda7b924b0788b420c42822d2785fAt Affiliated Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics (APDO), we have years of experience making pediatric dental appointments a pleasant experience. We recognize that sometimes children get nervous about visiting the dentist. For this blog, we're going to give you three easy tips to help make every trip to our office tear free and fun for your child!

Recognize & Accept

First, parents need to recognize that a worry or fear is real for a child and that is OK. Everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest adult, experiences anxieties and fears at one time or another. Feeling anxious in a new or particularly uncomfortable situation never feels very good. However, with kids such feelings are not only normal, they're also necessary. We must recognize and accept that dealing with anxieties can prepare young people to handle the unsettling experiences and challenging situations of life.

Ask & Listen

Now that you’ve recognized and accepted that it is ok to be anxious about your child’s upcoming dental visit, let’s ask and find out why they’re anxious. This is the hard part for parents. We need to ask & listen not interrupt or tell. Listening is an important tool. As parents and adults we assume that what may make us nervous about an upcoming appointment is the same thing that makes a child upset. But that is not always the case. Children can become worried about all sorts of things. Maybe it is the taste of the toothpaste, movement of the chair, the tooth counter, the bright dentist light or something a friend or sibling said. Most of the time it is a fear of the unknown. What are they going to do? Am I going to lose a tooth? Will it hurt? Be sure to give them the chance to explain their fear in full. You can ask follow up questions. Why do you not like it when the chair goes back? What is it about the toothpaste that you don’t like? As trivial as a fear may seem to you, it feels real to your child and it's causing him or her to feel anxious and afraid. You don’t have to have all the answers and solve the all problems right then. Sometimes just talking about it out loud or getting it off our chest makes us feel better. If you don’t have an answer or don’t know how to explain sometimes the best thing to do is say “Well, I understand. That can be kind of scary. Let’s tell the doctor about it when we get to the office. Maybe there is something he/she can do about it?” This is a great response. It tells your child you understand and hear them. You relate to them and you’re not telling them what to do. It also gives the doctor a chance to understand what is going on as well. Once we know what it is that scares them about a dental visit it is easier to prepare, adjust and deal with that feeling.

Support & Care

Parents can help kids develop the skills and confidence to overcome fear and anxiety in children so that they don't evolve into phobic reactions. Being able to talk about what scares us helps. Words often take some of the power out of the negative feeling. If you talk about it, it can become less powerful. Never belittle the fear as a way of forcing your child to overcome it. Saying, "Don't be ridiculous! There are no monsters in your closet!" may get your child to go to bed, but it won't make the fear go away. Don't cater to fears, though. If your child doesn't like dogs, don't cross the street deliberately to avoid one. This will just reinforce that dogs should be feared and avoided. Provide support and gentle care as you approach the feared object or situation with your child.

Recognize & Reward

Recognition goes a long, long way. If your child did a great job at the dentist's today, be sure to let them know how proud you are of them! You can even give them a special medal or certificate after the visit for their bravery. Children also love ritual and rewards, so consider establishing some kind of a fun activity or that always happens once you leave our office - for example, maybe you go to the park together, get a new toy, or go out for a little ice cream. They'll learn to look forward to that, which may remove some of the anxiety and fear surrounding the visit.

Contact Your Scottsdale, AZ Pediatric Dentists

Have more questions about our practice or your child's dental health? We're happy to answer them. Feel free to reach out to us at our contact page or use our easy online form to book your next appointment at our Scottsdale, AZ office. We look forward to hearing from you, and we hope these tips come in handy for your next visit!