Pediatric Dentistry 101: Making Kids Love The Dental Chair

Posted on: 18 March 2015

Many parents dread taking their children to the dentist; children's fears, while they may be based in the fear of the unknown, can make a dental appointment difficult to complete. Some children fight back, cry, scream, or struggle, and that's difficult for dentists and parents to cope with. 

There are a few ways to help in this situation, and both dentists and parents should consider taking steps to reduce children's fears. Here are three ways you can work together to create a calm appointment. 

Reducing Fear Starts At Home

Reducing a child's fears about the dentist starts at home. It's important for parents to be honest about the appointment and to explain what the dentist is going to do. 

The dental office should send the parents a small booklet that explains what happens at an appointment ahead of time. This booklet should be positive, colorful, and created for children, so they can read and understand what's about to happen. 

Calming the "Fight or Flight" Response

When a person becomes overwhelmed, anxious, or feels endangered, the body goes into a mode called "fight or flight." Some people fight against the stressor, while others will attempt to flee and escape.  

Children are not yet in control of these responses and are unlikely to be reasonable. The best way to reduce or eliminate an anxiety response is to start taking a child to the dentist early in her life.

If that's not possible, consider going to the dentist a few minutes early and talking to the dentist with your child privately. Children are taught to fear strangers, so taking the time to introduce the dentist as your friend or an important person your child should be comfortable with can help. 

Keep the First Visit Short and Sweet

The best way to build up a child's courage is by giving them small "wins" that eventually lead to a full-length appointment. To do this, consider making the first few appointments short and allowing the parent to be at the first appointment with their child.

Start with one appointment focusing on learning to brush the teeth. Next time, make the appointment slightly longer, allowing for time to explain dental tools to the child. This appointment may even work well if you provide toy dental equipment, so your patient can follow along with the appointment. If the child is comfortable enough to have the appointment without a parent, this is a good time to move forward with that technique.

Over time, as children learn to trust the dentist, they will be less likely to lash out and will understand the importance of this appointment. Try these steps to reduce fear and make dental visits more comfortable. For more advice, ask experts like the Children's Dental Center Of Central Iowa PLC.