Life is full of new experiences for all of us. Some of them are exciting, like our first trip to a carnival or our first time going to a movie theater. Other experiences can make us nervous or frightened, like our first day at a new school or a trip to the dentist. People of all ages get scared at the dentist’s office, so it’s understandable that children can get scared of the dentist too. If your child is frightened of the dentist, here are seven things you can do to help ease his fears.

Start taking your child to the dentist by his or her first birthday. Dental care should begin at an early age. Let your child know that the dentist will help him keep his teeth strong and healthy.

Take him to meet the dentist ahead of time. Little things like seeing which chair he’ll sit in and what the room looks like will make it easier for your child. The dentist’s office will be more familiar and therefore less scary. Also, having a dental home where you always go gives your child an idea of what to expect when he visits the dentist.

Keep your words positive and simple to understand. Don’t give a scared child a lot of details about the visit. Keep it vague, so there is less to cause him worry. Avoid using words like shot and hurt. Instead, say something simple like that the dentist is going to look in his mouth and count his teeth. Focus on phrases like “strong, healthy teeth” instead of on phrases like “it won’t hurt.”

If possible, arrange for your child’s favorite dental hygienist to clean his teeth every time you visit. Having a familiar person greet him and talk with him will make the dentist’s visit more comfortable for your child.

Bring earbuds and an MP3 player so your child can listen to a familiar song or an audio book while having his teeth cleaned. Little things that make your child more comfortable and make the dentist’s office more familiar will make the visit easier on both you and your child.

Consider bringing your child’s favorite stuffed animal for him to hold while the dentist is looking at his teeth. Sometimes having a comfort item handy can make an unfamiliar setting more comfortable and less scary.

Lastly, make sure that your child knows that going to the dentist is a necessary part of keeping his teeth healthy and strong. Don’t let him think that it’s an option. You want your child to have healthy teeth care habits throughout his entire life.

If you follow these seven suggestions, you should find that your child’s fear eases up a little. Making routine dental care an important and necessary part of life makes it more familiar and less scary, therefore less likely to be skipped. Contact your local office of dentistry for children today and get your child started on the path to healthy and strong teeth.

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