Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Dentist? Overcoming Children's Fears Creatively

Dentist Blog

Whether it's irrational or based on a previous experience, many children feel very real fear at the thought of going to the dentist. If you know why your child is afraid, you have an advantage because you can address the specific issue, but many parents have no idea why their child seems so terrified. Sometimes you just have to get really creative to help your child overcome their fears. 

Star in a bedtime story

One way to overcome fears is to talk about them. Children are very imaginative, so moms and dads can use that imagination to create a positive experience for their child. Psychologically speaking, the unconscious brain does not know the difference between real or imagined events. Use this to help your child overcome irrational fears. Tell your child a funny, exciting, and happy story about a dentist, like John Shea DDS, that they star in. If you have to, tell the story every night. Change it to amuse your child.

An example for the creatively challenged is, "Once upon a time there was a little girl named Suzy. Suzy had never been to the dentist before. She didn't know how much fun it would be, and she had no idea about the surprise (could be a toothbrush or getting to watch a cartoon) that awaited her at Dr. So-and-so's office. Finally, the big day came and Suzy woke up early to brush her teeth for 5 whole minutes." Just telling the story and making it positive is a great first step. You're child may act out some of the behaviors in the story, so don't be surprised. Describe the things you're child will see and feel in a positive way, such as the dental chair, bright lights, what the dentist looks like, and any dental tools. Familiarizing objects makes them much less frightening to a child.

Act like you love the dentist

This is a great way to get your child excited about the dentist, or at least not hiding in a corner. Try acting like the dentist's office is a wonderful place. Be excited and happy. Tell your child how wonderful and important the first visit to the dentist is. Yes, you will have to use some acting skills but most parents can pull this type of thing off without a hitch. If you need to, make an appointment for a teeth cleaning and let your child watch. Smile, laugh, and act like you're having a wonderful time. Have the dentist give you a new toothbrush, or pull out a small item when you get in the car. 

Pretend call the dentist 

When you're at home, try pretend calling the dentist. Talk in your normal phone voice. Talk to the dentist about your child. Tell the dentist how much you love your little one, talk about your child's fears, and anything you think will help your child know that how they feel is important. Don't focus on anything negative, instead focus on solutions. Make sure to let the dentist in on what's going on discreetly, before your child's visit so that they can play along. 

Make up a funny song

Fun is a fabulous way to overcome fear. It creates a safe way to face a fear without any real risk. Use a song tune you're familiar with from childhood. For instance, many people know the Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee song, or On Top of Spaghetti. Rewrite the words to include your child's name and a dental experience. It may sound difficult but it can be pretty silly and your 4 or 5 year old is not going to care. You could start with, " I'm going to the dentist lucky me, O how happy I am gonna be," and just keep adding fun lines.

The main thing to remember when addressing your child's fear of the dentist is patience. Fears, even irrational ones, are very real to children.


15 December 2014

Understanding Dental Problems

Do you have "bad teeth"? I do. Ever since I was a kid, every checkup turns up a number of issues ranging from cavities to dental fractures. It has always been frustrating to keep my smile in decent shape, which is one of the reasons I started focusing on understanding different dental problems. I wanted to know what I was getting into when I visited the doctor, so I began focusing on learning as much as I could. I wanted to create this blog all about dentistry so that other people could find out what to expect when they head to the dentist. Check it out!