Dental anxiety is a fear of the dentist that causes patients to avoid seeking dental care. In some cases, it graduates into a phobia, where the patient cannot see a dentist at all.
Dental anxiety occurs in adults, but it’s also present in kids. However, kids need to see a dentist because they’re growing and losing teeth and need check-ups to ensure their teeth are healthy. But when your child suffers from dental anxiety, how can you get them to the dentist’s chair?
Thankfully, there are ways to manage children’s dental health even when your child feels anxious about going to the dentist. If you want to learn more about dental anxiety in children, read on to see why a kid-friendly dentist might solve your problems.
What is A Kid-Friendly Dentist?
A kid-friendly dentist is also known as a pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist specializes in children’s teeth. They understand stages of development and certain childhood behaviors and use a child-friendly atmosphere to engage children positively in dental work.
A pediatric dentist is specially trained, spending a few extra years studying pediatric dentistry after completing dental school. They typically see children from infancy through the age of 18.
One of the perks of seeing a kid-friendly dentist is that they understand children better than general dentists. Their interactions with your child are age-appropriate, and they’re able to explain things like oral hygiene in a way your child can comprehend.
How to Help Your Child With Dental Anxiety
When it comes to helping your child overcome their fear of the dentist, it isn’t always easy. But there are tools and tactics that you can try so your child has healthier teeth. Here are some ways to ease dental anxiety.
Find A Kid-Friendly Dentist
A pediatric dentist is your best choice when it comes to finding a dentist for your child. With your child’s anxiety, seeing a professional who’s trained and skilled in dealing with child behavior helps diffuse the situation and makes everyone more comfortable. It also gives the parent peace of mind because your child is in good hands.
If your child is new to the dentist, try role-playing. Role-play, or pretend play, is great for young children because it allows them to be a part of the experience before it happens. You can each take turns being the patient, the dentist, the parent, the child, or even pretend to answer phones at the office.
Give Children Time
Children thrive on routine and expectations. When you’ve scheduled their dental appointment, let them know ahead of time when it is and the minor details of when you’re leaving and where you’re going.
For example, you want to prepare your child for their appointment, so let them know a week or two in advance when the appointment is. It’s ok to answer questions about the appointment if they ask. On the day of the appointment, remind them of the time, and give them extra time to get ready and prepare, so it’s not a fight to get out the door.
Talk to Your Dentist
If your child’s fear of the dentist truly impacts their care, call your kid-friendly dental office and discuss options with the staff or the dentist. The great thing about visiting a pediatric dentist is that they’re prepared for these types of situations. They know how to keep children calm and implement strategies that promote a positive dental experience for anxious children.
Set Up A Visit
For some children, seeing the office and meeting the dentist ease the anxiety of the unknown. They know what to look forward to instead of being surprised and scared when they get to their appointment. If you think your child would benefit from a pre-dental visit, call your kid-friendly dentist to set up a consultation.
Talk With Your Children
Children have fears for a variety of reasons. Talking through those fears with your children helps them feel heard and gives them a way to express themselves so they can feel better about going to the dentist.
It’s also important to talk through what a dental visit is like. You can discuss the steps they’ll go through: signing in, waiting, going back, getting the teeth cleaned, etc. Giving your child a mental picture of what it’s like to go to the dentist might help relieve some of the anxiety.
We Need Healthy Teeth
Not only is talking to your child about visiting the dentist important but so is explaining to them that taking care of their teeth is like taking care of your whole body. You can check out a book at the library that’s age-appropriate if you’re not sure how to start the conversation. Be sure to leave room for children’s questions as well.
Get Professional Help
Sometimes phobias and fears run very deeply and there is very little parents can do on their own. Even with the help of a kid-friendly dentist, your child might need a little extra TLC to overcome their fear.
If you find that their dental anxiety is interfering with the health of their teeth, you may want to consider phobia counseling for children. Child counselors can work with your child to find the underlying cause for their fear and give them ways to overcome it with your help.
A Kid-Friendly Dentist For Your Child’s Teeth
Don’t let dental anxiety get in the way of your child having healthy teeth and gums. A kid-friendly dentist can ease their fears by working with them in a way that’s comfortable and calming so they can have healthy teeth for years to come.
Does your child need to see a kid-friendly dentist? Contact us today to get your appointment scheduled.