It’s pretty common for children to be afraid of new things. Children typically fear monsters under their beds, but a fear of the dentist is common as well. If your child is dealing with dental anxiety, there are a few things you can do before their visit, during the dental work, and after their visit.

Before their dentist visit, make sure your child is aware that they will be going to the dentist. While TV parents often trick their kids into going to the dentist by promising a day at an amusement park, this tactic is sure to backfire in real life. Likewise, you don’t want to wait to tell them until the last minute. You may think it’ll be easier if they don’t spend weeks stressing over the appointment, but in hindsight, it can actually worsen their anxiety. If you tell them ahead of time, it’ll be a great opportunity for you to open the door of communication. You may also want to inform your childs first dentist ahead of time that there is some anxiety brewing.

During the visit, have your child’s favorite book or toy at hand. While they’re sitting in the waiting room, this can be a huge distraction while they’re learning to adjust to the new environment. Big toys may not be allowed while they’re sitting in the dentist chair, but something small will probably be fine. Speak with your dentist ahead of time.

Take the proper steps to make sure you as the parent are calm, cool, and collected. If your child sees you panicking, there’s a chance they will start to panic too. Speak to your child in a gentle tone and save all discussions for the dentist for later when the child is not nearby.

After the visit, talk to your child about their experience. See what they liked and what they didn’t like. If you find out there were things they had trouble with during the visit, come up with ways that you can adjust for your next appointment.

If your child is worried beyond belief and there’s no way to calm them down personally, you can try sedation dentistry or a children’s therapist. The sedation will be administered to them to keep them awake but bring their anxiety levels down, while the therapist will be able to get them to open up about their worries and find a solution. Today, as many as 1 in 5 U.S. children goes without dental care, so don’t let dental anxiety keep your kids out of the dental chair. Get them in the office by talking with your kids dentist for other recommendations.

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