Being frightened of the dentist is a fairly normal thing for children to experience. The unusual environment with strange sights, sounds and smells, unknown faces of the professionals working there, and the fear of the unknown all combine to make a trip the dentist a potentially overwhelming experience. Nevertheless, parents have a responsibility to ensure that their child receives the dental care that they need. Parents also need to ensure that their child overcomes their fear of the dentist so that they can actively attend dental appointments as they grow – something which is essential if they are to retain their natural teeth for as long as possible and enjoy good dental health throughout adulthood.
Here are our top tips to help kids overcome their fear of the dentist so that you can rest assured that your child will get the dental care needed for great oral health for years to come.
Dentists can choose to specialize in specific areas of dental care, and some choose to undertake speciality training in children’s dentistry. This is an additional further two years beyond dental school which is used to study developing mouths in greater depth. In addition to this, they also study all stages and aspects of child development which enables them to have a greater understanding of young people and their emotional needs as well as what is happening with their teeth. As a result, pediatric dentists know how to talk to children about their teeth and oral health and employ tactics to help little ones overcome their fear. This can include a child-friendly waiting room, screens to watch during treatments and more.
The sooner your child gets used to visiting the dentist, the less likely they are to develop dental anxiety. Similarly, you should get your child used to people looking at their mouth and teeth from a young age. One of the best ways to do this is by ‘playing dentist’ with them and taking turns to be the dentist. You can ask them to count your teeth and vice versa and incorporate games into brush-time.
Once you have started visiting the dentist, keep up regular appointments. The more familiar the appointments become the less stressful your child will find them. Plus, more check-ups mean that any developing issues can be identified and treated earlier, before they require serious restoration work that could be frightening for your child.
In the majority of cases, dental anxiety or phobia in children occurs as a result of their parents also exhibiting the same emotions about dental visits. If you can, try and set the best example possible by letting your kids come to watch your dental check-up appointments and remain calm and happy throughout. If you have dental anxiety yourself, don’t put off making an appointment for your child because of your own fear. Talk to your dentist as there may be things that they can put in place to help you to overcome your own anxiety about dental visits.
For more advice on the best way to help your kids overcome their fear of visiting the dentist, please contact our office where our reassuring team are on hand to make visits as smooth and stress-free as possible.