Preventing Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety is common among adults and children, but in many cases, parents can take measures to prevent dental anxiety in children. Getting your child to the dentist for regular checkups every six months is important since failing to have regular dental care in the growth and development years can result in serious dental problems in the future. Set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth by using these tips to prevent dental anxiety.
Tip #1 – Get Your Child to the First Dental Appointment Early
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, you child should have his firth dentist’s appointment as soon as that first tooth shows up, or no later than the first birthday. This not only benefits their long-term dental health, it helps them to get familiar with the dentist’s office while they are young. They’ll be able to build a trusting relationship with the dentist and become comfortable around the equipment in the office. An early first dental appointment also helps children begin learning about the importance of oral hygiene while they are very young.
Tip #2 – Don’t Talk Negatively About Your Experiences at the Dentist
Make sure you don’t talk negatively about your experiences at the dentist in front of your child. You may think that you should tell them about your experience having a cavity filled or a tooth taken out, but if there’s any anxiety or negativity in your story, it can make your child’s anxiety worse.
Tip #3 – Play Dentist Together with Your Child
Spend some time imagining and playing with your child, pretending that you’re both at the dentist. Let your child pretend to check and clean your teeth or the teeth of a doll or stuffed animal. Add a chair, a mirror, and a toothbrush, and it’s easy to make believe you’re having a real dental visit. You’ll take some of the mystery out of the dental office and you’ll create a fun association that relieves anxiety when they do head in for their dental appointment.
Tip #4 – Try Reading Dental Storybooks Together
It’s easy to find dental storybooks that can reduce anxiety and even get kids excited about a visit to the dentist. Look for books that have fun illustrations and language that’s easy-to-understand. Read these stories together with your child regularly to prepare them for heading to the dentist’s office.
Tip #5 – Provide Information but Keep it on Their Level
Keeping kids informed on when they are going to the dentist and providing them with information on what to expect is important. Fear of the unknown can be one of the worst causes of dental anxiety. While it’s important to answer your child’s questions and you do want to give them information on what to expect, make sure the information you provide is on their level so they can understand. Provide straightforward answers and avoid lying about what they can expect when they visit the dentist.
Tip #6 – Use Positive Language When Talking About the Dentist
Anytime you’re talking about a dental visit, use positive language. Don’t use the words “shots,” “pain,” or “hurt.” These negative words can increase their anxiety. Use positive words like “healthy teeth,” “clean teeth”, or “strong teeth.”
Tip #7 – Choose an Experienced Pediatric Dentist
If you want to prevent dental anxiety in your child, make sure you choose an experienced pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists take special training that gives them the experience needed to treat children. When you work with a dental office that caters to children, everyone will be working hard to make sure your child has a positive experience, no matter his age. Pediatric dentists are skilled in using terminology and dental techniques that will keep your child relaxed while in the office. They’re also experienced in dealing with children who are anxious about their visit. Together you and the pediatric dentist can work to make dental visits a positive experience for your child while setting your child up for a lifetime of good oral health.
Don’t head to just any dentist when your child needs dental care. Trust your child to an experienced pediatric dentist who will keep them comfortable and work with you to improve their oral health. Call our office to book an appointment with our pediatric dentist today.