Why Children Fear the Dentist
It is almost an irrefutable truth: children are afraid of dentists. Generally, with a few exceptions, most children get scared as soon as they hear the word dentist. When they go to the dental clinic, it can be an entire ordeal just to calm them down and convince them to behave in a good manner and let themselves be treated. Some could argue that it is an innate feeling, that children fear the dentist just because that is the way they are programmed by nature. However, this is not entirely true. They might be genetically predisposed to fear dentists, but in reality, the main reasons for this fear are mostly based on social factors.
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Fear of the Unknown
For some children, especially the youngest ones and the first timers, going to the dentist represent a trip to an unknown land. If it is the first time they are visiting the dentist, they are encountering themselves with a territory that they do not recognize. The sight of different patients waiting, the medical equipment and the entire dentist hospital environment may frighten children since they are not used to them. Depending on how well parents and dentists handle this situation, it might have a long lasting impact on the child’s life. It is paramount, since it is a new scenario for them, to make children feel comfortable and be trustworthy of their particular pediatric dentist.
Pop Culture and Fear of Injury
Pop culture has an undeniable influence on the way people see the world, especially nowadays that there is such a big diversity of media which is easy to access. With children, this influence is even stronger because they haven’t had the chance to see much of the world by themselves and their interactions outside their family nucleus and schools are limited. Thus, it is common that many notions of the world children have are product of the pop culture. Many cartoons, TV commercials, and other sources picture dentists as macabre characters who are detached from what people feel, only pursuing the end and not caring about the means. Even though an adult can discern that this depiction could not be more far away from reality, a child may see it as an absolute truth. Consequently, when children think about the dentist, they think about this evil character that is going to cause them pain and injuries. Eventually, they most likely will overcome this fear, but parents should intervene to help children understand dentists are not as bad as they are pictured. In fact, they are working towards the children’s own good.
Children’s fear of dentists is almost inevitable. Knowing where this fear is rooted will help parents to guide their children through this process and overcome it. There is no reason for not making a dentist visit a pleasant one.