Over 35% of people have dental anxiety; a fear of the dentist. If your child is starting to display signs of dental phobia, it could have serious repercussions on their oral health. Your child might start neglecting their dental care, even as they grow older.
Here are a few ways you can help your child overcome a fear of the dentist. With these tips, you can help them feel more comfortable about routine visits.
Visiting their local dentist twice a year will help improve their oral health, allowing them to maintain a stunning smile. Read on to learn how to help your child today!
Form Dental Habits Early
Helping your child understand the importance of good oral health while they’re still young can help them grow comfortable with the concept from a young age. At home, you can help them understand the importance of brushing twice a day. Carefully review some of the consequences of neglecting their oral health, like:
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
At the same time, model good oral hygiene habits in front of your child. For example, you can show your child how you brush and floss daily.
Helping them understand the importance of oral health care at home could help them feel more prepared to visit the dentist. Visiting your local kids’ dentist will also help your child learn more about oral hygiene. The dentist can also review some of the procedures that will help your child improve their smile.
Over time, they’ll start to become more familiar with the dentist’s office and teeth cleanings.
Talk to your local dentist’s office to determine if you can schedule a consultation appointment with your child in tow. Give your child the chance to see the office without needing a procedure.
Prepare Them For Visits
Only 87% of children have visited the dentist in the past year. It’s important to make sure your child visits a local dentist every six months. Routine visits can improve their oral health.
It also gives the dentist a chance to review the development of their teeth. Routine appointments allow the dentist to spot signs of potential oral health issues, too.
Then, they can ensure your child begins the proper course of treatment right away (before complications develop).
It’s normal for your child to feel anxious about visiting the dentist if they don’t know what to expect. Beforehand, walk them through a typical visit.
During the appointment, the dentist will tell them exactly what’s happening, as it’s happening. This tell-and-show method of communicating can help your child feel more in control.
Choose Words Carefully
Before your child’s appointment, watch what you say—especially if you struggle with dental anxiety yourself. Try to avoid using negative words while talking about the dentist. Avoid any words about dental procedures that might trigger their anxiety, too.
For example, you might want to avoid words like “drill,” “filling,” or “scraper.” Let the dentist explain these terms to your child. That way, you can avoid building any preconceived fears before the appointment.
Your child might have an easier time understanding what to expect if you play pretend.
Schedule a make-believe dentist appointment with your child. Start by playing the role of the dentist first. Then, demonstrate how you’ll clean and check their teeth.
Then, reverse roles. Allow your child to play dentist and give them the chance to see there’s nothing to fear.
Use Positive Reinforcement
You can also help your child overcome a fear of the dentist with positive reinforcement.
Decide on a prize for their good behavior ahead of time. Avoid treats or candy, though. Instead, consider rewarding them with sidewalk chalk, a sticker, or a trip to the movies.
Promise them their reward if they behave during their dental appointment.
Avoid punishing your child if they misbehave, though. Otherwise, they might associate going to the dentist with negative emotions.
Try Relaxation Techniques
Try teaching your child relaxation techniques in case they get nervous. For example, deep breathing exercises can help your child relax while easing tension. Muscle relaxation techniques can loosen up their body, too.
Asking your child to blow bubbles through a wand could help them focus on their breathing as well.
Have them mimic these techniques while they’re in the dentist’s chair to keep them relaxed.
Choose a Great Dentist
One of the best ways to help your child overcome a fear of the dentist is to choose a great dentist. Look for a pediatric dentist with years of experience treating younger patients. They’ve likely learned how to help many patients overcome dental anxiety over the years.
Choose a dentist who knows to speak to children in a friendly, calm, and understanding tone. They should also use easy-to-understand words when explaining dental treatments.
A dentist can also use encouraging words and stories to engage your child during their appointment. Perhaps they acknowledge positive behavior to encourage your child as well.
Before your child’s appointment, schedule a consultation appointment with the dentist. Discuss your concern about your child’s dental anxiety. They can help you develop a plan before the appointment.
Consider Sedation Dentistry
Your local dentist might also recommend you consider sedation dentistry for your child.
Sedation dentistry can help your child relax during the appointment. Make sure to find a team that employs specialists and anesthesiologists. These experts are well-equipped to ensure your child’s comfort during any procedure.
Help Your Child Overcome Their Fear of the Dentist With Our Team
Helping your child overcome their fear of the dentist can set them up for success later in life. Otherwise, they might skip appointments as an adult. Don’t let your child put their oral health at risk.
Instead, use these tips to help them resolve their worries about visiting the dentist.
Ready to schedule your child’s next appointment? We can’t wait to see you both.
Contact us today to get started.