There are plenty of adults that dread going to the dentist- myself included. I’m not sure what it is that started my dentist anxiety (maybe how much it costs!?), but I know I don’t want my kids to feel the same. We have been taking the boys to the dentist for a few years- ever since H (at the tender age of 3) broke his front tooth and had to have it removed. I quickly realized that having a stress free dentist visit would come largely down to what I did and how I acted- these are a few of the things I did to help the boys feel comfortable at the dentist.
I used to do a lot of ‘if you don’t brush your teeth the dentist will have to give you a filling’, and ‘ooh the dentist is going to be cross with you’, but I stopped pretty quickly when I realized that a) it wasn’t working and b) it was just going to make them scared of getting their teeth checked.
When we first took them to get their teeth checked I talked to the kids about what would happen. I explained to the boys what the dentist chair does, that the dentist would put glasses on their face and ask them to open their mouth and that it needed to stay open while he checked their teeth. We are lucky that we have a fantastic dentist and dental nurse that are not only great with kids, but explain what they are doing so the kids don’t freak out, and make it as fun as they can.
Just a note- if your child is having a filling or needle, I wouldn’t tell them they are- I’d just say that the dentist needed to check something, and to close their eyes and have a rest so they don’t see the tools etc
Another thing I did when both the boys had to have little fillings last visit (I cried when I was told- they floss and brush and yet STILL had a cavity!), is I bought them each a small toy that they wanted and gave it to them when they sat in the dentist chair. I talked to them about how they just needed to close their eyes and give their teddy a cuddle while the dentist checked their teeth again (I didn’t tell them they had to have a needle, and neither realised it had happened because the dentist used numbing gel first). They were so busy concentrating on the gift they didn’t really pay attention to what was going on
So far we haven’t had any drama when going to the dentist. I think if the kids were really shy, I’d probably take them with me for a few of my checkups so they could see what goes on, and that it’s no big deal- but only if I didn’t have to have anything done! with the way I stress out in the dentist chair, it probably wouldn’t do much to reassure them!!