Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

What to Do When Your Child Refuses to Visit the Dentist

A dental office can be a scary and challenging environment for many children. Despite the best efforts of the Dentist themselves, the thought of the “tooth doctor” causes anxiety in thousands of children every year. Yet, attending regular dental checkups is a cornerstone of health for children. So, what is a parent to do? The best answer is to transform how a child views their experience at a dental office. Here are some tips on what to do when your child refuses to visit the dentist.

Change the Conversation

Avoid using language such as, hurt, pain, or just a little bit. Many children are simply afraid of the unknown. Using these phrases only reinforces a child’s fears. Even terms such as, “cavity” imply pain. Instead, try making conversations about the dentist as pleasant as possible. For example, “We get to go check on our teeth today!” Instead of, “You have to go to the dentist.” While these changes may seem small, they can have a big impact on how a child foresees a visit.

Help Them Be Comfortable

For some children feeling comfortable or being in a familiar surrounding is enough to ease their fears. Helpful tips may include allowing your child to wear their favorite or most comfortable outfit. Bring your child’s favorite toy to accompany them to their appointment. These simple changes bring familiarity and a sense of ease to your child’s appointment. Some children, however, require additional assistance in feeling comfortable. In these instances sedation dentistry can be quite helpful. It can be a mild form of sedation such as laughing gas. Or perhaps, some children may require intravenous sedation. Sedation may not remove fear but it can help promote a positive base of experiences for the child.

Find the Right Dentist

Finding the right dentist may seem to be commonsense. Of course, you would want a qualified professional. However, pediatric dental work requires additional skill sets. WebMD goes into depth on qualifications to seek in a dentist for your child. For example, an experienced pediatric dentist will understand how to explain complex topics to your child.

Most are well versed in carrying on conversations with children to keep them preoccupied. A reputable dentist will help build a positive experience for your child. These tips and just the right dentist are the keys to success when your child refuses to visit the dentist.

Tim Esterdahl

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