What is kids’ dental anxiety?
Most kids love to brush their teeth, especially when Mom trusts them to do it independently. Brushing your teeth with your child can be a fun activity for kids to look forward to every morning after breakfast and every night before bed. But though your child might be a good sport when brushing and rinsing, it’s not always the same story when it comes to going to the dentist. Dental fear and anxiety is a major factor when it comes to pediatric dentistry. Therefore, moms and dads need to be prepared with strategies to help calm their kids’ dental anxiety, also referred to as dentophobia. The proper techniques can make all the difference when it comes to helping your child have a stress-free appointment.
What causes dental anxiety in kids?
It isn’t always clear what causes some kids to be afraid of something and others not. But the truth is, kids’ dental anxiety is natural. Much of the fear can be traced to lack of familiarity with the dentist, dental team, and office environment, despite an office’s efforts to make kids comfortable. The noises and dental instruments can be a bit overwhelming for other kids. However, dentists, dental teams, and parents can work together to provide a safe, comfortable environment that will put young patients at ease.
Tips To Mitigate Kids’ Dental Anxiety
Children should have their first dental visit shortly after their first tooth erupts or by age 1, whichever comes first. After that, kids should see the dentist every six months for an oral evaluation and preventive dental cleaning. While this frequency is generally easy to manage, it can seem like a lot for parents with kids who suffer from dental anxiety. So what can you do to make the experience easier? We have a few tried-and-true recommendations that could make all the difference between a pleasant experience and the ultimate disaster.
1. Take your child on a dental office tour.
One of the best ways to get your child familiar with the dentist is to visit before their first appointment. This works particularly well for young kids who either haven’t been to the dentist yet or haven’t been in a while. When it isn’t your child’s turn to sit in the patient chair, it allows them to explore and get more comfortable with the environment.
2. Talk to your kids about the dentist before their appointment.
Sometimes, children simply experience dental anxiety because they don’t know what to expect. Take time to talk to your children about the dentist and what will happen during their appointments. This can help manage their expectations for the big day.
3. Let your child know that their dentist is not someone to be afraid of.
Stranger danger is a genuine concern for children of all ages, but it is important to let children know that the dentist is gentle and knows how to work with kids’ teeth. Though you shouldn’t dismiss your child’s fears, taking the time to tell your child about the dentist can help. Then, hold your child’s hand at the appointment if it helps them feel more comfortable.
4. Let your child bring something familiar to their dental appointment.
If your child is dealing with dental anxiety, try letting them bring something from home to their appointment. Whether it be a favorite book, blanket, or toy, having something familiar can help put your child at ease.
5. Take your child to your dentist appointment.
If your child is still unsure about the dentist and exhibiting signs of kids’ dental anxiety, arrange for your child to go to your next appointment with you. If possible, make arrangements in advance so that your child can sit in the patient chair for a few minutes and observe some of the dental instruments. Let your child sit in the chair next to you and watch you while you get your teeth cleaned. Many kids feel reassured once they can see exactly what goes on and interact with the dental team.
6. Make dental-appointment day a special day.
Talk to your child in advance about what they should expect at their dental appointment. You can also motivate your child by planning a special reward after their visit if they cooperate and behave. This can help encourage them to be brave, and a fun activity or treat afterward with Mom or Dad can be a memorable experience for both of you. Doing something fun after going to the dentist creates a positive association with dental-visit day.
Is your child dealing with kids’ dental anxiety in Wasilla, Alaska?
If you are the mother or father of a youngster with dental anxiety, don’t worry. You are not alone. But more importantly, their dental anxiety is conquerable with the right support mechanisms and the right dentist. Plus, with the right amount of patience and perseverance, it is possible to prevent kids’ dental anxiety entirely, especially when you visit the top family dentist near Wasilla, Alaska. Request an appointment today or give our office a call. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have to help you put your kids’ dental anxiety to rest.