If you’re like many parents, you want to help your children overcome dental anxiety – it’ll make dental work so much less stressful.
But where do you start?
Here’s what you need to know.
How to Help Your Kids Overcome Dental Anxiety
Studies have shown that as many as 16 percent of school-aged children have a fear of dentists and dental work – so it’s a much more common issue than most people think. The most common fears kids have are of local anesthesia and tooth extraction, but sometimes just visiting the dentist causes children stress.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help your child overcome dental anxiety. To boost your kids’ confidence about going to the dentist, you can:
- Visit the dental office before treatment
- Practice dentistry at home (but not really)
- Use positive language
- Encourage your child to ask questions
- See a pediatric dentist
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
Visit the Dental Office Before Treatment
Bringing your child to the dentist’s office before treatment – just so he or she knows what to expect – is often a great way to alleviate a child’s anxiety. It can also give the dentist an opportunity to start getting to know your child so everyone’s more comfortable.
Practice Dentistry at Home
Many kids become more comfortable with the idea of visiting a dentist through play. You and your child can take turns giving each other dental exams and treatments just so your child gets used to the idea of someone looking in his or her mouth. Switching roles gives your child a measure of control as the “dentist,” which goes a long way with kids.
Use Positive Language
When you discuss upcoming dental appointments, don’t use words like shot, hurt, or pulled. Instead, focus on words that have positive connotations, like clean and healthy. Don’t talk about your own negative dental experiences, either (if you’re like most moms and dads, you started receiving dental treatment before modern advances in pain-free dentistry).
Encourage Your Child to Ask Questions
Let your child know it’s always okay to ask questions – either at home or at the dentist. At home, you can keep your explanations simple and age appropriate. For example, you might say, “The dentist needs to put a special crown on your tooth to protect it and keep it strong.” Using terms like these can put a positive spin on things for your child.
See a Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric dentists know how to work with children – and part of their job is to make kids feel more comfortable so that they have a favorable view of going to the dentist long into the future. Your child’s pediatric dentist will know which age-appropriate terms to use and how to distract your child from the procedure, and he or she can use sedation that will help head off future dental anxiety, as well.
Do You Need to Talk to a Pediatric Dentist?
You can help your child overcome dental anxiety – and so can we. If you need to talk to a pediatric dentist to learn about treatment options for your child, we’re here to help.