Talking to your child about the dentist

Both kids and adults experience anxiety about the dentist so what parents tell their kids is important.

When parents say things like, “The dentist won’t hurt you,” “It will be quick, just relax,” the child may feel alarmed. Such phrases could embed more fear into the child’s idea of pain and imagination, rather than reassuring him or her.

Once a child has had a negative encounter, the probability of pursuing a dental treatment later on when they are older may decrease. An anxious child becomes unable to differentiate between the pain caused by the physician during the procedure and the one caused by disease or infection itself. A portion of this pain might be genuine and the rest of it could be psychological due to thoughts.

If parents and caregivers can assure their children that going to the dentist is no big deal, it will alleviate anxiety they may have about the experience. And this includes being careful how they – as the adult – speak about visiting the dentist too. Little ears pick up a lot!