It is relatively common for people of all ages to experience some fear or anxiety when visiting the dentist, and children are especially prone to this given their limited dental experience. Those who have never visited the dentist or have gone a long time between visits might have fears of the unknown. Children who have had bad experiences in the past may also be fearful of expected pain, feeling out of control, or of the procedures performed.
Dental anxiety in children can have long term consequences if not addressed. Not only will individual appointments become a stressful challenge for you and your child, but those negative associations could result in fewer dental visits. At a young age, regularly going to the dentist is a must to prevent cavities and future problems in a developing mouth. But with patience and the right methods, it is possible to relieve your child’s anxieties.
Tips for Decreasing Anxiety at the Dentist
Getting your child through a dentist visit begins even before you make the appointment. You’ll want to:
- Start Early – Children should start visiting the dentists as toddlers, even as soon as 1 year old. This gets them familiar with the experience through visits that focus on examinations.
- Talk With Your Child – Discuss what happens during a visit so your child knows what to expect. Also let them know that an appointment is coming up rather than surprising them with it.
- Be an Example – Even if you experience some anxiety at the dentist yourself, don’t share your own fears with your child. Stay calm and positive about the importance of going to the dentist. It may help to schedule your appointment the same day so your child can watch you.
- Address Fears – If your child has a specific fear like worrying about an unfamiliar situation or pain, talk about those specifically so you can reassure your child.
- Provide Positive Reinforcement – Congratulate your child when they are calm or even excited about the dentist. After they’ve been through a visit, reward them with an experience or toy they enjoy.
- Let Your Dentist Know – Tell your pediatric dentist that your child has some anxiety. The dentists and hygienists will work with your child to quell their fears.
It is also helpful to visit a dentist who has experience with pediatric dentistry. While your child’s anxiety can seem like a major challenge, the truth is that many children experience similar wariness about the dentist, and most pediatric specialists know how to help.
As a family dentist, we have experience treating young patients at Dental Concepts and Orthopedics. We know how to calm their anxieties and help make visiting the dentist a manageable experience for both you and your child. We use patience, positivity, and honesty to help children build a strong foundation for dental health. Call us today to set up an appointment for your child or get more information about our pediatric dentistry service.