Dental anxiety is a fear of dentists and dental procedures. It can lead to a child refusing to go to the dentist or avoiding going altogether. This behavior can jeopardize oral health. Parents can help their children manage dental anxiety.
Start dental visits while they're young
Starting your child with regular visits to the dentist from a young age helps them become comfortable with the doctor and the office setting in general. If they're not suddenly thrust into the chair with a stranger that's poking around their mouth, they're more likely to relax and trust that everything will be okay. This helps them be less nervous in the future when they know what's coming and that they don't have to worry about being hurt again.
By bringing your kids with you to your own dental appointments, they'll be able to see what a normal checkup looks like and see that there's nothing to be afraid of. Plus, it's a good time for them to ask questions that you might otherwise not have time to answer if they're sitting in the chair by themselves.
Read stories or play games involving dentist visits
Read great books about going to the dentist, as these books help children see a dentist as a positive thing rather than something to fear. This can help your child prepare for their first visit to the dentist's office. It can also help young children who already fear the dentist. Reading about other kids who are nervous at the dentist's office will help the child understand that everyone feels nervous about visiting the dentist and that it's okay to feel a little nervous.
Many dental offices have children's books and toys in the waiting room. These can help them feel more at ease while they wait for treatment. Some dentists even have TVs above the chair so they can watch a show during treatment. This helps them relax even more throughout the procedure.
Teach kids the importance of great oral health
When children can observe their parents taking care of their teeth properly, they will be more likely to maintain their own good hygiene habits. Set a good example by brushing and flossing your teeth every day and taking your children for regular dental checkups and cleanings.
Bring a comforting item with you
If you are a parent who has a child with anxiety regarding visiting the dentist's office, consider bringing a comforting object to help your child get through the exam. Whether it is a toy from home or something from the dental office, having something to hold during the exam helps calm nervous children down.
Many parents like to bring their child's favorite toy with them to the dental office. This can help distract the child from the fear of going to the dentist and can help them relax throughout the procedure. Another useful tool is a stuffed animal to comfort the child when they feel anxious.
Parents may also opt to bring headphones for their children to wear in the exam room while the dentist is performing an exam or cleaning. Headphones help block the sounds of tools being used and help the child feel more comfortable with the noises they may hear while in the dentist's office.
Consider sedation dentistry
Some dentist's offices also offer sedation dentistry for patients who experience extreme anxiety when at a dentist's office. This can be a great option for children who need extra help with their dental anxieties but may not be ready for traditional treatment methods. Talk to your dentist about this option if you think it could help your child relax and feel more confident with their dental care.
At Unique Kids Dentistry, we're committed to helping our patients feel comfortable at every visit! We understand that sometimes patients need a little extra assistance getting through their appointments, and we are proud to offer a number of forms of sedation dentistry to ease your stress and help you feel at home in our practice.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation appointment to learn more about how we can help you have a great experience every time your child visit our office.