Is Your Child Afraid of the Dentist?

female child receiving a dental exam

Getting your child to the dentist’s office can be a struggle if they are afraid. It’s normal for children to fear what they don’t understand. Add unfamiliar surroundings, medical equipment, and a new doctor to the mix, and it should be no surprise if your child is resistant to seeing the dentist for one of their visits in the first couple years. We generally recommend your child come visit us for their first visit around age 2. Your child’s teeth may have been in their mouth for about a year now but this timeframe will help us have the most effective cleaning and exam.

Familiarize Your Child with Our Office

We are always happy to meet new patients. If you have the time, stop by our office a few days or weeks before their first visit. Our helpful staff will introduce themselves and take your child on a brief tour. Knowing what to expect will allay your child’s fears. Meeting our friendly staff also helps. If your child knows someone in the office, the transition will be smoother when they come to their actual dental appointment. We love showing kids how our special tools like Mr. Thirsty (saliva suction) work to keep teeth clean and sugar bugs off.

Explain What to Expect

Talk to your child before their first checkup about what Dr. Forcioli will do and why. Reassure them that there is nothing scary involved. When they are ready to brush their teeth at night, take a moment to explain that Dr. Forcioli is part of a team helping to protect their teeth and keep them healthy and strong. You may want to demonstrate an exam by looking into their mouth, pulling up their lips to check the gums, and explaining what you are doing.

Several children’s books on the market take the mystery out of a visit to the dentist. Reading these with your child is helpful, especially with younger children. A few suggestions are:

  • The Berenstain Bears Go to the Dentist
  • Show Me Your Smile, Dora Goes to the Dentist (Dora the Explorer)
  • Curious George Visits the Dentist
  • Behold, No Cavities! (Featuring SpongeBob SquarePants)

These classic tales use familiar characters to reassure children that a visit to the dentist isn’t something to fear. In fact, it can even be fun!

Be a Model Dental Patient

Children notice clues from their parents and siblings. If you complain about your own trips to the dentist, your child will internalize this and want to avoid them. Reassure your child that you go to the dentist regularly and look forward to leaving with cleaner, healthier and brighter teeth. Schedule a routine exam and cleaning with Dr. Forcioli, asking if you can bring your child along to watch. Seeing the dentist work on your teeth and knowing that you were comfortable and safe during the procedure is reassuring to your child.

Make Dental Checkups a Routine

Many children develop dental anxiety as they get older, particularly if they only see a dentist when there is a problem. Don’t wait until your child has a cavity that needs filling or suffers from a toothache to bring them to Forcioli Family Dentistry. Twice-yearly checkups and dental cleanings become a part of their lives when you start early. Your child becomes more comfortable with our dental care team with each visit and will be less stressed if there is a problem in the future.

Letting your child avoid the dentist now can lead to serious consequences later in life. Taking the time to reassure your child, alleviate their fears, and encourage proper dental care now makes it more likely they will continue with a healthy oral hygiene plan in the future for years to come.