4 Tips to Try if Your Child Doesn’t Like Going to the Dentist

girl afraid of the dentist and clasping her hands over mouth

Unless directed otherwise, your child should visit the dentist every six months. Regular checkups are key. They allow our pediatric dentist to monitor oral development and perform a more thorough cleaning.

But not all children are enthusiastic about going. The dentist’s office can seem like a scary place for a variety of reasons. For one, there are new people there that your child doesn’t know. There are also dental tools that make loud noises.

The best thing you can do when your child is afraid of the dentist is help them overcome their fear. Here are 4 easy tips to try out before their next visit.

1. Above Everything, Stay Positive

It’s important that you remain calm when speaking to your child about the dentist. Making them any more afraid is not going to help anyone. Steer clear of complex language that will only confuse and don’t pass along your own phobias.

Explain plainly what the pediatric dentist wants to do. You can say they will check their teeth, brush them, and teach them about keeping their mouth healthy. Don’t make hard promises, however, as you never know what your child may need procedure-wise. Of course, you can positively ensure that they are in good hands.

2. Read or Watch Dental Related Content

There are plenty of helpful picture books and friendly online videos about dental visits to choose from. Prepare your child by taking the time to read through an easy-to-understand book or watch a relatable video.

Any digestible content on the subject of going to the dentist will work wonders. Even better if you can find a book or video that features your child’s favorite character. They’ll be able to see that individual experience the same thing and know that if that character can do it, so can they. Suddenly the dentist won’t seem so scary.

After you’re done reading or watching, ask your child to share their thoughts. You may find that they now have a more positive outlook of the dentist.

3. Play Games

One thing all parents can agree on: children love games. So, use this shared appreciation to your advantage. Create a game centered around their next visit to the dentist.

A great place to start is by playing pretend. All you need to do is assume the role of the dentist and have your child be your patient. Use a toothbrush to carefully brush and count their teeth. As you “work”, be sure to speak to your child about what you’re doing and why oral health is important. When you’re done, let your child swap roles and try.

With any game you try, avoid anything that may further scare your child. What we mean by this is if you play pretend, do not make drilling noises or go into detail on procedures your child may not even need. This can be counterintuitive and frighten them more.

4. Strategically Plan Their Appointment

You know your child better than we do. If you’re aware your child is at their crankiest early in the morning, wait to schedule their appointment until later in the day.

Make sure your child has eaten a meal recently and gotten enough sleep the night before. This way, they’re more likely to be in high spirits when they’re sitting in the chair. Tantrums and bad moods are hard to predict but planning ahead decreases the likelihood they’ll happen.

You can also bring their favorite stuffed animal along for the visit to increase their level of comfort. Sometimes knowing they have a friend with them is all they need to feel confident.

Our Dentist Understands Anxiety

Our pediatric dentist in Hudsonville, MI, has seen their fair share of anxious children wanting to be anywhere but the office. You can rest assured that everyone on our staff is trained to explain all that is going on in easy to understand language.

Schedule your child’s next appointment by calling Hudsonville Dental Kids at (616) 209-4039 or by completing our online contact form.