For as long as children have had imaginations, they have been afraid of the dentist. We’ve all been through it and most of us have outgrown it, but it doesn’t have to be a rite of passage. The fear of the dentist can turn into a problem if your young patients are suffering through their checkups. Here are a few ways to fight off the stereotype and earn your patients’ trust.

Talk to the Parents First

You can make your waiting room the next Disney World, but if the parents are somehow engendering the stigma, all your efforts will be wasted. Make sure that they aren’t trying to make light of the situation by teasing their kids about the pain and blood and, oh the horrible drill! Children don’t like to be teased, especially about their fears. It’s important for all the adults involved to try their best to ease them out of their phobias by gentle reassurance. Also, make sure the parents don’t load their kids up with personal horror stories. They may be trying to relate, but while your patient is sitting on your chair, that’ll be the only thing junior is thinking about. 

Make Dental Hygiene Fun

We all know that taking care of our teeth is a healthy, necessary habit. It doesn’t have to be fun. It just has to get done. But children have a hard time seeing it that way. They may be taught the value of having healthy teeth, but that won’t go very far when taking a trip to the dentist. Complete oral care isn’t just about brushing and flossing, it also includes checkups. Don’t be afraid to incorporate a fun element into the checkup. For instance, see if your patient can hum the alphabet backwards while you’re checking for cavities. Any fun distraction will mitigate their anxiety and, who knows, maybe make their next trip something to look forward to.

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