The best way to deal with dental phobia in children is to stop it before it starts. Yes, you can do it!
When my children were little, I made sure to take them to the dentist as early as possible. Usually dentists want to see a child starting around 3 years of age, although today our dentist agreed to “check” my 20 month old after she was done with my older 4 children. My son was so thrilled to have her look into his mouth! I was thrilled that his “first” visit was a positive one.
It’s important for a variety of reasons to take your children to the dentist frequently; usually dentists recommend every 6 months. If a problem is starting, it can be taken care of promptly. This minimizes expense, time and most importantly, discomfort!
Another way to minimize dental phobia is to be proactive about dental health at home. Have your children brush their teeth regularly and floss. Use a fluoride rinse for your children if they are old enough to understand that they can’t swallow the rinse! They can gargle and spit the liquid out. My daughter has soft teeth and had a lot of cavities in her baby teeth until the dentist suggested this to me. She hasn’t had any since then! I’ve used “anti-plaque” rinse for kids and I felt that the product didn’t work too well, although the kids sure loved it.
Your attitude is important too! Parents are entitled to not like the going to the dentist. A wise parent however, will not freely offer that little tidbit of information, or explain in detail why they dislike the dentist! I had a co-worker one time go into excruciating detail once in front of her children about how she disliked the high pitched squeal that the dentist’s drill made when he was fixing her cavities. You should have seen her children’s faces!
You can prepare your children for visits to the dentist when they are very young by going to the library to look at books about the subject. You can also get them a toothbrush for their stuffed animals and pretend to play dentist. Yes, it really does work with little ones.
The most important thing you can do is to find a child friendly dentist. We had a wonderful dentist where we used to live with a general dentistry practice. Her office was full of toys and the staff was very kid friendly. When we moved here however, I noticed that there were an abundance of pediatric dentists! We decided to try a practice close to our home and we’ve been very happy with the quality of care.
My children actually look forward to going to the dentist! Although it’s been a lot of work to get them to this point, it’s been well worth it.