Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety in Kids
Posted by Rosemont Dental Center on May 4 2023, 03:42 AM
Dental anxiety is a fear of the dentist, and it’s normal for children to be afraid of the dentist. However, it’s important to teach your child the importance of good oral health from an early age. When children see their parents being comfortable with the dental team, they’re more likely to feel comfortable themselves. Here are a few tips to ease the dental anxiety of your little ones.
- Starting your child on early dental exams and checkups will help children grow into adults who have a healthy relationship with their dentist. Even before they have teeth, your dentist will be able to tell you if your child has developed proper oral habits. A pediatric dentist is trained to understand how to best provide dental care to children as young as infants.
- Before your child’s first checkup, gather a few items from home that will make them feel at ease. For example, if they are used to sucking on a pacifier, let them bring it along to the appointment. You can also bring along a blanket they sleep with or a stuffed animal they love. This will give your child a sense of familiarity and comfort when meeting their new dentist.
- When your child is young enough, read stories about going to the dentist with them. Avoid creating anxiety by only reading happy and fun books. There are many children’s books about visiting the dentist that are upbeat and encouraging for kids. You can even make a game of it by playing “dentist” at home with your child. Have them pretend they are the dentist and you are the patient who is coming in for an exam and cleaning.
- Once your child has their first checkup, show them the importance of brushing their teeth regularly. Let them see you brush your own teeth and explain why it’s important. As they begin to develop more permanent teeth, teach them how to properly brush and floss on their own to promote healthy teeth and gums. Make sure to set a good example by using good oral health practices as well.
- Bringing a favorite toy or blanket from home can help make a scary situation seem less intimidating, helping your child feel more comfortable and safe at your office. Again, this should be done with the guidance and approval of your dentist to ensure the item is safe and sanitary to use in the dental office.
- You can also simulate the office environment at home by setting up your own play dental office. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to play the role of the dentist and give your little one a few exam-like checkups. Just be careful that you don’t cause anxiety by making the experience too intense. You want your child to have positive associations with the dentist’s office so they develop a healthy habit of visiting regularly every year.
- Also, remember to keep a positive attitude about visits to the dentist yourself. If you appear nervous, your child will mimic your behavior and become anxious as well. Instead, stay relaxed, be patient, and make the whole process fun for your child. That way, they’ll be prepared to handle their first visit to the dentist with ease.
- When your child sees you brushing and taking care of your teeth, they are more likely to do the same. Children learn by example, so it’s important for you to practice great oral health habits yourself. Don’t have any oral issues of your own that could be causing your children to be anxious. Make sure you’re also scheduling regular dental checkups for yourself so that they know you are practicing what you preach.
At Rosemont Dental Center, our team works to make sure children feel comfortable in our practice. We offer a variety of treatment options to help children learn the importance of great oral health in a fun, relaxing setting. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you help your kids develop a healthy relationship with dentistry.