It may not surprise parents to know that many children are afraid of the dentist. This is likely due to the fact that there are many weird sounds and smells in a dental office, along with a complete stranger who is trying to make your child open their mouth in order to poke around with metal instruments and odd-tasting toothpaste. Due to this fear, dental procedures for children can be quite a challenge.
While it may not work every time, there are a few ways to help your child prepare for a dental procedure.
Discussion Beforehand and During. Depending on the age of your child, they may have a lot of fear due to the fact that they simply do not know what to expect from a dental procedure. The simple act of sitting them down and explaining what is going to happen can actually decrease a substantial amount of stress for a child. In addition to a discussion before actually going to a dentist's office, a parent explaining the procedure while it is taking place can also calm a child's nerves. It may seem odd to have a parent be such an active part of a procedure, but it is comforting to a child to know that their parent is attentive and aware of what is happening with them.
Bribery. While bribery in the professional world can be a crime, bribing a child to cooperate through a dental procedure can work wonders. It is almost incredible how much bravery a child can muster when they know they will be rewarded for their efforts. When bribing a child, make sure that the reward is evenly balanced with the cost. For example, dental procedures that are very involved and may have some substantial recovery time should be rewarded with larger prizes than a simple cleaning.
Medication. Depending on the severity of the dental procedure, a dentist may offer some sort of medication to help calm a child's nerves. Parents should be very careful when giving their child medication, as a little goes a long way. If medication is not offered prior to a procedure, some dentists may offer nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, to calm a child's nerves during procedures. Pay close attention to how your child responds to laughing gas since there have been cases of allergic reactions during procedures.
Explaining your child's feelings to their dentist can also help procedures to go more smoothly because the dentist will most likely do their best to help the child keep calm. Talk with a dentist like one at Hayden Dental for more tips to help children understand and not be afraid of going to a dental office.