Children’s Fear of the Dentist
As parents, we want to instill good habits in our children to foster a lifetime of exceptional health. We encourage them to eat their fruits and veggies, to take their vitamins, to get regular outdoor exercise, and to tolerate visits to the pediatrician, some of which are painful because immunizations are needed. In a similar vein, a lifetime of dental health is rooted in the childhood rituals of regular dental visits. Because the sights and smells of a dental office are a bit like that of the pediatrician’s office, your child may be apprehensive about seeing the dentist. Here are some tips to make both you and your child more comfortable when talking about and visiting our Battery Park pediatric dental office.
Check Your Own Fears at the Door
As in other areas of life, our children will “do as we do, not as we say.” If your child sees you brush and floss daily and visit the dentist every 6 months for checkups without fear or complaints, he or she will adopt a similar attitude. In contrast, if you use fearful language (“shots,” “hurt,” “pain,” “drilling,” etc) when speaking about you or your child’s upcoming dental visits, your child will be more apprehensive. Using positive phrases like, “We’re going to see Dr. Kherani to keep your teeth healthy and strong,” will help your child interpret dental visits in a more positive light.
Just the Facts, Ma’am
While you want to couch any discussions about dental treatments in a positive way, your child doesn’t need to know every detail of an upcoming dental appointment if that visit involves discomfort. While you must avoid false information (for example, saying “It won’t hurt”), it’s fine to say that everything will be done to make it as comfortable an experience as possible and that you, the parent, will be there to provide comfort and reassurance. In this way, if your child does experience pain during a dental procedure or treatment, no trust has been lost through false assurances beforehand.
Since your child likely sees our South Manhattan pediatric dentist only a couple of times a year, he or she may forget the experience between visits. Enjoy role-playing with your child as the dentist, with you or a stuffed toy as the patient and vice versa. Have your child “brush” the stuffed toy’s teeth, examine the toy’s teeth with a mirror, and apply sealants as a dentist or hygienist might do. Read books about dental visits, such as those on this Amazon page. In this way, your child will have some understanding of what to expect, which leads to less fear.
Trust the Dentist
Pediatric dentists, such as Dr. Anjum Kherani, are experts at providing dental care for kids. They use special words and phrases that are comforting and even fun for kids. Dr. Kherani and our staff have many years’ experience providing dental care for kids, so we know it’s normal for them to wiggle, refuse to open their mouths, fuss and sometimes cry. It’s easy for us to stay calm, whereas it might be tougher for you, the parent. So don’t be insulted if we suggest you wait along the side or ask you to be a “silent helper.” Believe it or not, sometimes kids are calmer when their parents aren’t right there.
Save the Bribes
As tempting as it is to tell your child that you’ll give him or her a special treat after the dental visit, doing so actually sends a message to your child that something bad is about to happen and you’re offering a treat in hopes that he or she will get through the experience with as little fussing as possible. It’s better to send the message that having clean, healthy teeth is important to you and to your child and that dental visits are part of creating and sustaining a healthy life.
Please don’t hesitate to call upon Dr. Kherani or a staff member if you having any questions or concerns about your child’s dental visits. We’re here to help!