How Can I Help My Child With Dental Anxiety?
Many parents know the stress and concern of having a child that experiences dental anxiety, which can be common, especially for younger children. As a parent, you know and understand the importance of getting regular dental checkups beginning at a young age. Hence, it is also essential to understand how to help your child with any dental anxiety they may be feeling.
A pediatric or family dentist usually has many years of experience treating children, and their goal is for the child to feel comfortable and safe and maintain good oral health.
They understand that by building a good foundation, the child will maintain regular dental visits throughout adulthood, so it is essential to communicate with them about your child’s dental anxiety so they can help. Here are some helpful techniques and ideas to help you relieve your child’s dental anxiety.
Dental Anxiety In Children
Most parents don’t like putting their children in situations where they feel scared or uncomfortable. Dental anxiety is usually caused by the thought of an upcoming dental appointment, and children may exhibit fear, anxiety, heightened emotions, nervousness, or other signs of stress. Unfortunately, dental anxiety in children and adults can lead to avoiding regular cleanings and long-term oral health issues.
What Causes Dental Anxiety In Children
There’s a variety of factors that can lead to dental anxiety in children, including the following:
- A previous unpleasant or painful experience with a dentist
- Learned behaviors from parents, siblings, or other relatives
- The site or feeling of dental instruments in their mouth
- The setting of a dental office
- Inadequate preparation for the child’s 1st dental visit
- Waiting till later in childhood for the first dental visit
- Some children feel anxiety over new experiences or doctor visits in general
7 Tips To Help Your Child With Dental Anxiety
One of the most significant ways that you can help your child deal with their dental anxiety is by remaining calm and relaxed. Your child will often follow your lead in many situations, and if you’re comfortable, it can significantly improve your child’s experience and help them relax. Below are some other helpful tips we can suggest to help your child overcome dental anxiety.
Tip #1. Start Dental Visits Early
Ensure that your child begins going to the dentist soon as their first baby tooth comes in and no later than their first birthday. By starting early in life, your child will be more comfortable receiving dental care and building a relationship with their dentist early on. In addition, when you set a precedent when they are young, your child will understand that regular dentist appointments are essential to maintain healthy teeth.
Tip #2. Practice Positive Reinforcement
Use positive reinforcement rather than fear around brushing their teeth. While it may seem compelling, warning your child that if they don’t brush their teeth, they will have a challenging experience at the dentist is counterproductive and can create fear and anxiety. It is best to create playful and fun experiences around teeth brushing to help improve oral care and explain how the dentist helps to keep their teeth healthy and strong.
Tip #3. Bring Their Favorite Toy or Comforting Blanket To The Dentist
For children with a favorite toy or a nice soft blanket, you can bring it with them to help manage anxiety. Some dentist offices will even have them available should your child experience anxiety when they’re already at the appointment.
Tip #4. Role Play
Children love to explore the world through make-believe and role-play. Before your child’s first experience with a dentist, you can role-play using stuffed animals, the child’s mouth, or even your own to act out the experience of a dental appointment. It can be a simple and short play session using a toothbrush to count the teeth and avoid words that mean scare them, such as drill or numbing.
Tip #5. Read Stories About Dental Visits
Books can be a great way to relieve anxiety or stress around dental visits at home with your child.
Tip#6. Talk With The Dentist
Communicating with your child’s dentist if your child is experiencing dental anxiety is essential. They often have techniques and understand how to help children through feelings of anxiousness and fear. They may also suggest that your child comes in for fun, to pick out a toy, or to say hi to help build a relationship and trust with a child to ease their anxiety. Choose a trustworthy family dentist to provide your child with compassionate, expert oral health care.
Tip #7. Sedation Dentistry For Children With Dental Anxiety
Whenever necessary, sedation dentistry can be a helpful and safe way to help keep your child calm. The dentist may use laughing gas as the child breathes through a mask placed over the nose, with the effects wearing off shortly after the mask is removed. Your child’s dentist may suggest other options, such as general anesthesia or oral sedation for specific procedures, depending on your child’s level of anxiety.
For Compassionate Family Dentistry, Visit Carrie Muzny DDS
At Carrie Muzny DDS, we offer your entire family the highest quality dental services with compassion and kindness. Our highly trained, exceptional team of dentists utilizes modern preventative techniques to support our patients in the Woodlands and surrounding areas to maintain optimal oral health.
From surgical procedures, restorative dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and professional tooth whitening, we are here to help you get that perfect smile. Contact us today to book an appointment, and we will create a personalized oral health plan.