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Is Your Child Afraid of the Dentist? Five Tips from Kelowna Dentists

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You mean you want me to lie back and have that strange lady put scary tools in my mouth? That must be what children are thinking during their first few trips to a Kelowna dental centre. It’s not surprising that kids aren’t crazy about visiting the dentist at first, but there are ways you can help him see it as a positive experience.

See our FAQ for Kids & Teens to find out when your child should start seeing a dentist.

How to help your child look forward to visiting the dentist:

1. Read books
When your child sees his furry and cartoon friends sitting in the dentist’s chair, he’ll see that he can do it too. Picture books help introduce him to everything about the dentist, from chairs and dentists to tools and x-rays. There are several great titles you should be able to find at your library, but our Kelowna dentists love the images and messages in The Berenstein Bears Visit the DentistShow Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist (Dora the Explorer); Just Going to the Dentist (Little Critter); and First Look and Find: Sesame Street, I can do it! (Elmo).

 

2. Role play
Before your child’s first trip to the dentist, she has no idea what it’s like, but if she’s introduced to the idea ahead of time and it becomes familiar, it’ll be much easier for her to warm up to the place.

After her bath, talk about going to the dentist and tell her you’re going to check her smile and count her teeth, just like the dentist will. You could even let her count your teeth. “Sidney, do you want to have a turn being the dentist?”

 

3. Focus on the positive
Help your child see the upside of going to the dentist. Instead of pain—and don’t even use pain words such as ‘hurt’—focus on how her teeth are going to be so clean and strong and healthy. Show her pictures of dolls or actresses with great smiles and make comments like, “I bet she goes to the dentist and brushes her teeth all the time.”  When you’re eating nuts, you might say, “See, you need strong teeth to eat nuts, right?”

Give her reason to get excited rather than scared about going to the dentist. At the same time, if your child is afraid of the dentist and you know she might need a filling, don’t say it won’t hurt. Simply focus on the facts.

 

4. Distract, distract, distract
Bring his favourite truck or video game to help take his mind off the dentist and speed up the clock.

 

5. Offer praise, not rewards
Kids are smart. They’ll probably be on to you if you tell them they’ll get a reward at the dentist. They’ll wonder, “Why won’t I like going to the dentist?” Instead, dentists suggest praising your child for good behaviour rather than rewarding him.

Think your child will be scared of the dentist at the first visit? Read our post on a walk-through of a child’s first trip to the dentist so you can explain it to him.

Whether you’re visiting us for cosmetic or general dentistry, we provide a comfortable experience with results that will last. Contact us to book an appointment today!

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