Dental anxiety is a common phenomenon. Many people experience anxiety at the thought of visiting a dentist. Dental anxiety can be extremely distressing for children. Children, especially very young children, cannot understand or express that they are anxious about a dentist appointment. Parents need to help children manage dental anxiety. Here are some tips to help children manage dental anxiety.
Many parents struggle with helping their kids ease their fear of the dentist. They don't want to force their child into doing something that makes them feel frightened and uncomfortable. But you also don't want your child to have serious oral health issues that could have been prevented through regular dental care. Here are some great tips to help your kids overcome any anxiety they feel about going to the dentist.
From the start, make trips to the dentist a positive experience for your child. This will help them understand that going to the dentist is nothing to fear and will help prevent dental fear from developing in the first place. Don't use negative language when talking about the dentist with your child. Use positive language instead when talking about the dentist. For example, instead of saying, "getting your teeth fixed is something you have to do," say, "it's something you get to do that will help you have a healthy smile."
We recommend scheduling the first visit by the time your child turns one year old. This way, your child will get used to the dental office and feel comfortable visiting us regularly throughout their childhood. Activity books and toys can also help alleviate anxiety in children as they see others going through the experience as well.
A quiet toy, favorite blanket, or small stuffed animal are great ways to ensure your child's comfort during a dental visit. These items can help distract a child from nerves and unfamiliar surroundings. Be sure to pack these items in your bag before you head out the door. Many pediatric dental offices have "comfort boxes" that contain books play dough, and other small trinkets to help children feel more comfortable in the dental office.
Reading stories about going to the dentist or having a tooth pulled can help ease anxiety about these types of procedures. The more familiar kids are with what happens at the dentist's office, the less chance they will have for worrying about the unknown. Games like "dentist" and "who has...?" are also great ways to make the experience of going to the dentist fun for kids.
Children learn from their parents and older siblings, so lead by example! Make sure you are keeping good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly for cleanings and exams. Your children will model your behavior over time. When you make dental care a priority, your child is more likely to follow suit. When they see that you are taking care of your smile, they will learn to do the same from a very early age. This will lead to improved oral health for the entire family!
If you want to learn more, feel free to contact our dental office today to schedule an appointment with our dentist. We're always here to help your smile stay healthy!