Teaching Your Child how to Love the Dentist

According to the American Dental Association, between 40 and 50 million people a year in the U.S. avoid going to the dentist because they suffer from dental anxiety. Even though brushing and flossing is very helpful in preventing dental problems,, scheduling regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist will help to reduce the buildup of plaque and calculus.  This buildup up is created by bacteria which contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Checkups also provide your dentist a chance to examine your mouth for any early signs of tooth decay, and to perform routine oral cancer screenings.

Like most phobias, learning to fear the dentist doesn’t happen overnight, and can usually be traced back to a traumatic dental experience during childhood. Children who grow up fearing the dentist often become adults who suffer from dental anxiety. To help your child become comfortable with visiting the dentist, it’s important you establish at an early age that visiting the dentist shouldn’t be the cause of any concern.

Here are a few tips on how you can keep your child from developing dental anxiety, and become comfortable with visiting kids dentist in Monroe WA Dr. Crandall’s  office.

Start Early

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents schedule a child’s first visit with a dentist shortly after her first tooth appears, or by the time she turns one. Scheduling appointments for your child to visit the dentist at a young age can have two major benefits.

First, by taking your child to the dentist at a young age you help acclimate him or her to the dentist’s office. If your child always remembers visiting Dr. Crandall, then it won’t seem as intimidating the next time.

Secondly, by having your children visit Dr. Crandall at a young age, you can help to ensure they don’t develop any serious oral health problems that may require a more invasive procedures to correct. If your child’s first visit is due to discomfort, he or she will be more likely to view the dentist with fear and suspicion the next time he goes back.

Don’t Try to Relate

Parents frequently try to help their child overcome fears about visiting the dentist by relating their own fears about a dental visit. While you might think that you’re offering support by telling your child that it’s okay to be afraid, you’re actually helping reinforce the child’s thought that the dentist office is a place to fear.

Kids look up to their parents and learn by the example they set. Telling a child that visiting the dentist scares even mommy or daddy is like saying the monster that lives under their bed would keep you up at night as well. Obviously getting them to sleep after that would be more challenging, as well as getting your child comfortable with visiting the dentist once you confirm your own fears.

Don’t Bribe

Offering your child a bribe dependant on his good behavior while at the dentist’s office can also reinforce a belief that the dentist should be feared. Telling your child that if he’s real brave while at the dentist, you’ll stop for ice cream on the way home can cause him to wonder what he has to be afraid of to begin with. You also send mixed messages to your child by promising them a sweet treat immediately following a dental visit that probably included a lecture from your dentist about the importance of avoiding too many sweets.

A more successful technique is to compliment your child on his behavior after a visit, and taking him to the park or out for a healthy treat afterwards as a reward.

Clinton Crandall