Dental fear affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and can develop for a range of reasons, including embarrassment and past bad experiences. While a child developing dental fear is generally not their parents' fault, there are a few things you can do, as explained below, to lower the chances of your child developing dental fear.
Don't Make A Big Deal About Dentist Visits
Your attitude towards dental visits goes a long way to shaping your child's own attitudes towards the dentist. Stay positive about the visit, but never act as if it is optional or a choice for the child. Promising rewards after a dentist visit might be effective for a child who is already nervous, but it equally reinforces the idea that the dentist is a chore or something to be feared. Don't talk about it for days in advance, and don't let your child overhear you talking about hating the dentist. Parents.com also suggests that you might benefit from letting the dentist take control during the appointment, as they will already have their tried-and-tested ways of explaining things to children.
Choose Your Family Dentist Well
It is important to choose the right dentist for your child's early visits, as this will shape their relationship with dentistry into adulthood. Colgate explains that it is a good idea to choose a specialist children's dentist, as they are likely to have a reassuring manner and a familiarity with the unique dental needs of young children. However, it is likely to be more convenient for your children to attend the same dental practice as you, so try looking for somewhere that offers general dentistry as well as children's dentistry. Choose somewhere kid-friendly, with friendly staff and a pleasant waiting room, but also somewhere that'll suit your own needs. This has the added advantage that your kids will be familiar with the place when they are old enough to see an adult-focused dentist.
Make Oral Hygiene A Priority At Home
As WebMD explains, a common cause of dental fear in adults is embarrassment about the appearance of their teeth. You can't control how your children take care of their teeth as adults, but you can work to support good habits that will last a lifetime. Supervise your child's brushing until they are at least eight years old, and make sure their technique is up to scratch—ask your dentist if you're not sure! You can also make sure they know about flossing, mouthwash and other oral hygiene concepts, as well as ensuring that they are educated about which snacks, foods and drinks are tooth-friendly.
While you can't entirely ensure that your child won't develop dental fear, you can try hard to make sure that their attitude towards dentistry remains healthy. Choose the right dentist, stay positive about the experience, and help them with their oral hygiene to set them on the right path.