Going to the dentist isn't any fun, but it is one of those things that just has to be done. For years, I fought the process and didn't go for my regular cleanings and in the end, it sure didn't pay to do so. I ended up spending ten times as much time in the chair and a boat-load of money in dental repairs. If you don't like going to the dentist, you can make it easier on yourself. This blog will show you a few tips that can help you improve the experience and get through the treatment without as much discomfort.
As a parent, you're keenly aware that your children mirror your actions and behaviors. When your little one pretends to speak on the telephone to a friend or repeats a not-so-nice word you accidentally let slip out, you know right away where they've learned it! What you might not realize is that when you have a fear of something, your kids pick up on that, too. Many people have mild anxiety about seeing the dentist, and up to 15 percent actually avoid going to the dentist due to this fear. If your heart races at the thought of seeing the dentist, even for a routine cleaning, it's likely that your child has picked up on this. Here are some ways to avoid passing dental anxiety or phobia onto your children.
Don't Play Show and Tell
Many dentists suggest that parents have their small children accompany them into the exam room while mom or dad gets a cleaning or a simple checkup. This is a great idea for those who don't have dental anxiety, but it can backfire if you are fearful. Your child will pick up on your negative feelings and may adopt them as his or her own.
If your child's other parent is not comfortable in the dental chair either, you could see if a non-fearful aunt, uncle or close family friend would be willing to let your child watch at the dentist. If not, though, simply schedule your child's appointment for a day when you are not having any dental work done. This can reduce your own anxiety, which will, in turn, reduce your child's.
Don't Offer Reassurance That It Won't Hurt
Simply mentioning that the two of you will be stopping by the dentist's office so he or she can "count" your child's teeth is generally enough preparation for a small child. Remember, it probably has not occurred to him or her that this will be a stressful or painful event, so it's not necessary to assure your child otherwise. Saying, "Don't worry; it won't hurt" or "you won't need to have a shot this time" will only put the idea into your child's mind that it could hurt and that there might be a shot next time.
Instead of reassuring your little one that there will be no negatives, focus on the positives: "You'll get to use a cool straw named Mr. Thirsty," or "The dentist has a treasure box that you can choose a prize out of after your visit!"
Consider Staying in the Waiting Room
Some pediatric dentists suggest that mom or dad wait in the waiting room, particularly if they're fearful of the dentist themselves. Remember that dentists who work with children are usually very good with young kids; they know what to say and how to describe what they're doing while getting them to relax.
Gauge how your child feels about this by suggesting that he or she go in alone with the dental assistant. If your child balks or cries, then by all means, agree to go in! But if he or she strolls off with nary a glance back at you, rest assured that your little one will be taken care of well and will most likely come out all smiles.
Unlike hair color or the shape of your nose, your dental anxiety is not something that is likely to be genetically passed on to your child. By keeping your own phobia at bay when talking about the dentist or taking your child to his or her appointments, you can avoid passing down this trait. Another strategy is to work on lessening your own phobia; talk to a dentist like those at Cobbe Dental & Orthodontics about ways that you can reduce your fear (outside of your child's earshot, of course).