WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - For kids, a visit to the dentist can be pretty scary. What can parents do?
Experts say it's perfectly normal for kids to feel scared of the dentist.
Sometimes they don't want to separate from their parents, they might be afraid of the unknown or afraid of being hurt.
But they say parents and dentists can help.
Ten-year-old Erin Soldridge used to be afraid of the dentist.
"I was scared of like what would happen when I was there. I didn't know what they would do and stuff," says Erin, who is going into fifth grade in the Whitehall/Coplay School District.
But now she kind of likes it because she gets to watch cartoons and wear headphones.
Her mom, Melissa Soldridge, says a few things helped.
"I think the atmosphere is very important; obviously you want to have nice staff," says Melissa.
The Soldridge family goes to Dr. S. John Salivonchik's office in Whitehall, Lehigh County. The doctor sees plenty of nervous kids and adults.
"Unfortunately that's something we have to deal with even though it has gotten so much better and easier, I think there's a natural apprehension," says Dr. Salivonchik.
He says going to the dentist has changed, thanks to improved procedures and technology.
"If there is a problem and we do find a cavity, we find it so much earlier."
For example, he uses a tool called the Spectra system that easily shows doctor and patient where problems are.
So, stay calm yourself, find a dentist you like and talk about it. A treat afterward doesn't hurt either.
"I think it's important to explain to your children exactly what is going to happen because if a child has never been to the dentist, they don't understand exactly what the dentist does," adds Melissa.
If it's your child's first visit to the dentist, experts say you should read books about it and maybe do some role playing so your child knows what to expect.
Allentown, PA 18102