The fear of going to the dentist is so common it actually has a name: Dentophobia. Those afflicted with dentophobia would rather suffer through cavities, gum disease, and infection than visit the dentist.
People aren’t born with dentophobia. Dental disdain passes from one generation to the next. If parents fear the dentist, chances are greater that their children will, too.
But regular dental checkups are just as important as doctor wellness visits and shouldn’t be skipped. Parents play a pivotal role in a child accepting dental visits. Start with these six tips to help your child understand that a dental checkup is a routine part of healthy habits.
1. Don’t Talk Negatively About the Dentist in Front of Your Kids
The next time you grumble about an upcoming dental appointment, make sure your children aren’t within earshot. Your annoyance may trigger a negative and anxious reaction.
2. Bring the Kids to Your Next Appointment
Little kids are naturally curious, so let them see what a dental office looks and sounds like, as well as what happens during the appointment. Doing so helps alleviate the fear of the unknown.
3. Start Dental Visits While They’re Young
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children go to the dentist by age one or within six months after the first tooth pops through the gums. In addition to promoting good oral health at a young age, it lets them experience a dental visit before they’re too old to know they should be nervous.
4. Try Some Role Play
Take turns being a dentist and a patient with your child. Examine each other’s teeth with mirrors. Put fingers in mouths to count teeth. Brush and floss your child’s teeth. All of these activities let your child experience what a dental visit is like.
5. Time the Visit Appropriately
Before your child’s nap time or lunch hour isn’t a good time for a dental appointment. Also allow enough time so that everyone (including the dentist) won’t feel rushed.
6. Establish Good Dental Hygiene Habits at Home
Kids model their parents. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, they won’t see why these steps are important.