Quite often parents, when preparing a child for a visit to the dentist, say: “It’s not gonna hurt… He won’t do anything to you..” – and try to persuade a child to behave even before he or she comes to the clinic and sees a dentist. This makes the child anxious in advance, therefore this kind of “preparation” should be avoided. Behave commonplace and naturally. Simply tell the child on the visit day or the day before: “let’s go to the dentist, he will count the teeth and help and teach you how to care for them properly”. You can try and role-play what to do in the dentist’s chair beforehand.
What’s better not to.
- Do not tell the child: “He won’t do anything to you,” – because simply sitting into a chair, opening one’s mouth and letting the dentist look at one’s teeth already means doing something. It is better to tell what children need to do and what the dentist will do.
- Do not tell the child: “It’s not gonna hurt,” – because a child under the age of 4-5 does not distinguish pain from the feeling of pressure, hence, even a dentist’s touch on a tooth a child may perceive as pain. It is better to say that the doctor will be very careful and cautious.
- If the parents themselves have a strong fear of dentists, the child will feel it and be afraid along with the parents. If it is possible, it is better that the child is accompanied by some relative who is not afraid of dentists and is able to handle the visit to the dentist neutrally, without any escalated emotions.
4. As far as possible, avoid conversations with a negative attitude towards dentistry, even if it seems that the child does not hear you. Never discuss in the presence of a child how much the dentist has bothered you or how horrible the pedal-powered tooth drill was when you were a child. The child is unable to distinguish the past from the present and perceives it as reality. The moment a child has to go to the dentist, these stories will promptly emerge from the subconscious.