Dental Anxiety – Easing Your Child’s Fear of the Dentist
January 14, 2019
It’s perfectly normal to have fears, especially for children. But what can a parent do when their child is afraid of the dentist? Also called dental phobia or dental anxiety, a trip to the children’s dentist can be one of the more difficult parental chores.
Believe it or not, almost 20% of school age children are afraid of the dentist. Unfortunately, this issue makes things difficult for the parents and children’s dentists and technicians trying to help the child. Even worse, the anxiety can adversely affect the child’s oral health when it prevents them from receiving necessary dental care. So what can you do to get them past this anxiety?
How can parents and a children’s dentist help?
It can help tremendously when both the parents and their dentist communicate and work together to make a dental visit go more smoothly. Below are some tips to help ease your child’s fears of the dentist.
Parent role before the visit
Tell your child in advance that they have a dental visit.
Children need predictability in their life; waiting until the last moment to tell your child about their dental visit can worsen their anxiety. They will need as much time as possible to prepare and express any fears to you as the day of their appointment draws closer.
Answer questions with straightforward responses. Be sure to limit the amount of details given, and remind them that they can ask the dentist questions too. Children’s dentists are trained to describe procedures in nonthreatening ways.
Communication with your child is crucial. Talk to them about the importance of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Explain that the dentist is a friendly doctor who happens to take care of teeth and mouths.
Inform your dentist beforehand. Making your dentist aware of your child’s dental phobia ahead of time will help them be prepared for the visit.
Parent role during the visit
Ask your dentist for advice, and follow their instructions.
Have your child’s favorite toy ready. A toy can be a helpful and calming distraction in the waiting room.
Stay calm, throughout. It can be difficult to stay unruffled while your child is having a tantrum or has anxiety at their dental appointment, but mood can affect theirs as well. Having a soothing demeanor will make them feel safer and at ease.
Children’s dentist role
A children’s dentist knows how to speak gently and simply. Talking in a friendly tone and using simple words to explain procedures is beneficial. Sometimes, a dentist will use a doll or another person to demonstrate a procedure before they perform it.
Dentists can tell stories and engage them in a conversation. That way, attention is drawn away from the procedure. That will also help the child to feel more comfortable around the dental professional.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, behavioral management builds trust and allays fears; it’s all about creating a nurturing relationship. A children’s dentist knows when and how to give praise and reward bravery.
Don’t give up.
It can be understandably frustrating when your child refuses to go to the dentist, even for something as small as a fluoride treatment. It’s going to take a lot of patience to deal with dental anxiety. Remember that keeping calm and nurturing is extremely helpful to a fearful child. These types of fears often only last as a phase; they will most likely grow out of it.
Want to give your child (and yourself) a whole new experience of dentistry? Call Dakota Family Dentistry to book an appointment today! Call us at 605-352-6999.
Last Modified: 01/14/2019 2:27:48 pm MST