There are many reasons why your child may be afraid of the dentist. He may have had one or more painful treatments, you may have told him so many times not to be afraid such that he's convinced he should be, or maybe you are afraid yourself and have subliminally transmitted your feelings to your child.
The most optimal situation is to familiarize your child with the dentist's office even before he can properly talk, so that when he is old enough to really understand why he goes there twice a year, he will feel as comfortable there as he does at the supermarket or shoe store. Whether you haven't yet taken your first child to the dentist, or he has been there at least once and is undeniably scared of that activity, there are several things you can do to decrease or eliminate his fear:
- Always tell your child the truth. If he is going to have a cavity filled, don't tell him the dentist is "just going to clean" his teeth. He can deal with the truth and the minor discomfort of the drill better than a lie and a constant fear of the unknown at every subsequent visit.
- Show your child how to meet his fear head on. Take him to watch how you hold up in a dentist chair. Don't act scared when the dentist treats you, and certainly don't behave in an apprehensive manner when it's your child's turn to open his mouth.
- Choose a dentist who has a great reputation with children. If the waiting room is not pleasant and the receptionist is not cheerful, who knows what kind of chair-side manner the dentist has? Find a dentist who loves kids, and who has lots of child patients who love him.
- Make time to let your child express his trepidations and uncertainties. Find out whether conversations with other children or something he has seen on TV has increased his fears. Help your child separate reality from exaggerations before you arrive at the dentist office.
- Schedule appointments on days when both you and your child aren't stressed and rushed, preferably on a weekend or school vacation day. If your child is still not perfectly calm by the time you walk through the clinic door, ask the dentist if you can lie in the chair and let your child sit on top of you. A parent's hug can do a lot to change panic to simple nervousness, or nervousness to a full state of relaxation.
Ultimately, your attitude and the verbal messages and guidance you give your child will play a major part in stilling his fears. And once he understands that the dentist's job is to care for him, and not to harm them, much of his fear will already be replaced by acceptance. Talk to your dentist, such as Farkouh Dentistry Prof Corp for more information.