To kids going to the dentist for the first time, the dentist’s office is a place of lore. Their parents might tell them that the dentist is nothing to be afraid of. Their television shows might say otherwise, depicting it as an awful, scary place. It’s understandable, then, if they have some misconceptions about the dentist.
For the most part, these misconceptions are mostly harmless, often bordering on a fantastical curiosity. It’s best to leave it be in cases like this. However, you might want to monitor your child as their appointment draws nearer. If they begin to seem antsy about the visit, be wary—they might be delving into dental anxiety.
Before the jitters get to your kids, you might want to nip their misconceptions about the dentist in the bud. Here are some of the most common:
The dentist’s chair is a torture device
In most less-than-pleasant depictions of the dental office, there’s one piece that stands clear and antagonistic—the dentist’s chair. Negative media portrayals might showcase it as an amalgamation of scary tools, bright lights, and restraints, all of which are meant to torture those unfortunate enough to sit on it. Older kids who’ve been to the dentist before can contribute to this misconception. Often, they do this to get a rise out of younger children. It would come as no surprise, then, if the dentist’s chair is the first thing that triggers your kid’s dental anxiety. And since you can only really come by a dentist’s chair if you go to, well, a dental office, it might take some time before your children come of this unease.
To demystify the dentist’s chair, you might want to take your child along your appointments to see what goes on. If possible, they can even try it out themselves before your routine prophylaxis. The more familiar they are with it, the less scary it becomes.
Routine cleaning hurts
Another harmful misconception about the dentist is that all dental treatments hurt—even if it’s just a routine cleaning. Maybe your kids saw a similar scene in their favorite TV show, or perhaps they’ve heard an anxious relative talk about it. Because of this, they might anticipate the same thing during their visit, heightening their fear. An excellent way to combat this way of thinking is to reenact a dental visit during playtime. Just like the dentist’s chair, all it takes is a little familiarity to take away that veneer of fear.
Dentists are scary monsters
Like most medical practitioners, people tend to see dentists as sterile, unfeeling people who wouldn’t mind hurting their patients for fun. On the contrary, it’s in a dentist’s best interest to make sure their patients get the best care they can—primarily pediatric dentists. (Just check out our team!)
Finding a dentist that connects with your kids, then, is an excellent way for them to break out of that fearful thinking. Taking them to a pediatric dentist can help ease their worries in two ways. For one, their offices tend to cater more to children and often contain toys and bright colors. For another, pediatric dentists are trained to handle child behavior, making it easier for them to connect with your children.