Kids are scared of a lot of things – the monster under the bed, the bogeyman, the dark, and even the dentist! Most of the things they fear, however, are quite unlikely to ever cause them any harm. In fact, the pediatric dentist’s purpose is to do quite the opposite! If you’ve ever wondered where your child’s seemingly irrational fears stem from, you’ll find your answer here today!
At Hacienda Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Audrey Sheu specializes in understanding and working with children. She has a background in psychology, so she understands how kids think and what the best way to communicate with them is. Being afraid of the dentist is completely normal and it can be treated with the help of the right pediatric dentist. Read on to learn more!
What causes fear of the dentist
The first step to resolving your child’s fear of the dentist is understanding what causes and triggers it. Below are the most common reasons children are scared of the dentist.
Fear of the unknown
Infants and toddlers are naturally afraid of new experiences. Babies may start recognizing their parents’ faces within days of birth. When they meet strangers, they may feel uncomfortable and begin to cry.
The pediatric dentist’s office is a whole new world. While babies may not realize where they are, they’ll immediately sense that their surroundings are different. This can lead to temper tantrums, crying, and general anxiety.
It’s no secret that the media doesn’t always portray the dentist positively. If your child has seen a TV show or read a book that depicted the dentist as a villain, your child may start to think that dentists are bad people! They could also be afraid of experiencing pain at the dentist’s office. In reality, most pediatric dental procedures are totally harmless thanks to today’s developments in dental technology.
Kids can also pick up on how other people around them react to the hearing about the dentist’s office as well. They are extremely impressionable, so if they hear you groaning about seeing the dentist, they may start to do the same! The best way to show your child the dentist’s office is a friendly, safe place is by being a good role model whenever you need to go. Have your child sit in the office with you, so they can see how relaxed and well-behaved you are.
One negative experience is all it takes to make a child fear the dentist. If your child has even been treated rudely in a clinical environment, they may fear all doctors, including the dentist. If your child has ever been hurt by a dentist, they may be scared of all dentists afterward.
In this case, parents need to figure out what specific event caused their child to be so upset and talk it over with them.
When fear of the dentist isn’t addressed early on, it could compound in the future, resulting in a full on phobia! Children who are afraid of the dentist often try to avoid going to checkups, which can cause dental problems to go undiagnosed.
How to address fear of the dentist
As a pediatric dentist serving Diamond Bar, Whittier, and Hacienda Heights, Dr. Sheu sees lots of patients who are initially afraid of the dentist. While she is able to provide excellent oral care, behavior management, and counseling, parents also need to support their children throughout the process. Here is what you can do to help your child overcome their fear of the dentist:
Validate their feelings
If your child is scared, don’t make them feel worse by making fun of them or shaming them for their fears. Instead, ask them how they feel in a private environment. When they feel safe, they will be more honest about their feelings. If they just want attention, they will probably calm down. If they are genuinely terrified of the dentist, they will be able to calm down enough to tell you why.
Assure them that you are supportive
Let your child know that you will be by their side throughout the whole experience! Kids who are afraid of being hurt will feel protected if their parents are next to them or holding their hands during the appointment.
Show them what they can expect
Explain to your child why going to the dentist’s office is important. Having rotten teeth is definitely a scarier image than our friendly pediatric dentist! Show them books and videos that explain what’s going to happen with cute cartoons and relatable characters. You can also let them examine your mouth or roleplay as the dentist with their stuffed animals.
Create a positive association with the pediatric dentist
Give your child positive reinforcement before, during, and after the dentist’s appointment. Give them a big high five and hug for finishing at the end! At Dr. Sheu’s dental office near Diamond Bar, your children can choose stickers or toothbrushes as a prize at the end of the appointment. They will feel very accomplished for acting so mature throughout the visit.
Hacienda Pediatric Dentistry was created specifically for children in mind! Our walls are decorated with colorful illustrations and we have fun games in the waiting room. All of our staff members are trained to communicate kindly with children. If your child suffers from dental anxiety or fear of the dentist, our office is the perfect place to overcome that struggle!
Dr. Sheu is dedicated to cultivating great relationships with all her patients. With every visit to her office, your child will start to trust dentists more and more. They may even find dentistry to be fun!
If you’d like to book an appointment at our office by Diamond Bar, give us a call! Our Diamond Bar pediatric dentist is a pro with children of all ages, and she would be happy to meet you and your family.