Tips To Help Your Child’s Anxiety When Visiting a Dentist

Oral hygiene is one of the most important aspects of maintaining proper health, especially during the developmental years. Unfortunately, children of all ages often struggle with the idea of visiting a dentist regularly, leading to a lack of care and increased anxiety. If you have a child who has expressed fear or anxiety over visiting a dentist, there are a few tips to keep in mind to help ease the process while promoting a healthy and positive outlook when it comes to taking care of their teeth.

Maintain a Positive Attitude About Dental Health

Whenever you are discussing an upcoming dental appointment with your child or their overall oral hygiene it is important to maintain a positive attitude. Leading your child by example and taking care of your own teeth each day together is a great way to remain encouraging. Avoid discussing previous mishaps or negative experiences that you have had when visiting a dentist, especially if your child has already expressed the anxiety they feel when discussing dental appointments or going to them.

Begin Scheduling Dental Appointments While Your Child is Young

The sooner you take your child to regular dental checkups, the easier it is to minimize the fear and anxiety they feel with each new appointment. Exposing your child to a dentist at a young age is highly advisable to prevent potential issues from arising as they get older and begin to develop fears and anxieties on their own due to peer pressure or horror stories from friends and peers.

Discuss Your Child’s Anxiety With Them Directly

If your child has been vocal about their dental anxiety it is essential to maintain an open dialogue and an ongoing conversation with them. Avoid patronizing or diminishing their fears and anxieties while also reiterating the importance of proper dental hygiene. Do not use scare tactics to get your children adjusted to their regular dental checkups, as this may lead to resentment or the inability to maintain their dental hygiene as they grow older and into adults. Allow your child to express their fears while asking questions about what they believe causes their fear. Some questions you may consider asking your child depending on their age and their overall understanding of dental appointments include:

  • Have you always been afraid of dentists?
  • What scares you the most or makes you the most nervous about going to the dentist?
  • Are you having tooth pain that is scaring you from visiting the dentist?
  • What would make you feel better when we head to your dentist appointment?
  • Is there anything I can do to alleviate your anxiety and fears regarding the dentist?

Ask How You Can Help

Ask your child how you can help with minimizing their fears and anxieties over visiting the dentist. Inform your child that it is normal to feel apprehensive, especially if they are going to the dentist for the first time or if they require more than just a simple checkup and cleaning. Let your child know that you are there for them and that there is no shame in expressing feelings of anxiety, regardless of the situation.

Explain Standard Dental Procedures Without Too Many Details

Many children are aware of what is involved in a standard dental cleaning, especially if they have gone in the past and have only recently developed fears and anxiety related to the environment. However, you may have a child who has developed irrational fears at a young age even if they have yet to go to their first appointment. Explain basic dental procedures that your child is likely to encounter upon their visit to the dentist without using too many details. Details regarding basic cleaning procedures may lead to additional questions or unnecessary worries, especially if your child is experiencing panic attacks or extreme generalized anxiety any time the dentist enters the conversation.

Create a Mock Dentist Appointment at Home

If possible, create a mock dentist appointment at home to provide additional comfort while sharing a positive experience with your child. Include jokes and silliness to minimize anxiety and fear. Create faux dental tools together while explaining that you are cleaning their teeth and making sure they are as healthy as possible. Mock dental appointments are also useful to alleviate the anxiety that builds up when a child is aware of an upcoming appointment they have scheduled. Once your child has a complete understanding of what to expect they have a much better chance of approaching the appointment without feeling stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.

Offer Words of Encouragement

Always offer words of encouragement and support to your child who is struggling with fear and anxiety that is related to dentist offices. It is not uncommon for children to feel anxious and apprehensive when visiting a dentist, especially if they are shy and reserved in other facets of life. Share how proud you are of your child for learning more about dentist appointments and how strong and brave you feel they are when visiting the dental office together. Avoid using fear or belittling your child into going to an appointment, as this may lead to a disconnect on a deeper level as your child ages.

Search for a Dentist Office That is Understanding of Anxiety

Search for a dentist office that provides accommodations for children and has a complete understanding of anxiety related to dental work. Seek out a dentist office that provides a space for children to read or play while waiting for their appointment. Keeping your child busy and distracted helps to alleviate worry and anxiety most commonly associated with dental checkups, cleanings, and cavity filling procedures. Speak with the receptionist and dentist ahead of time to inform them of your child’s anxiety.

Once your child begins to feel comfortable with the idea of visiting a dentist, consider an office such as Dentist Newnham Family. With the right dental practice, assure your child feels safe, comfortable, and confident when scheduling appointments for routine cleanings and dental procedures.

Comments

  1. Great post!

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