How To Help a Child Who Is Nervous About the Dentist
Dental anxiety is common among people of all ages, especially children. Statistics show that around 20% of children are either nervous or afraid to go to the dentist.
Some children develop dental anxiety as a result of a previous unpleasant experience. Others experience fear for a less obvious reason, like the perception of pain or the feeling of powerlessness. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to pinpoint the underlying cause so you can help your child overcome their fears.
As a parent or guardian, you need to remember that your child is still learning and trying to understand the world around them. Even if they haven’t had a negative experience with a dentist, just the thought of being in an unknown environment can be scary for them.
Techniques To Help Children Overcome Their Fear of the Dentist
There are several ways to help your child feel more at ease before, during, and after a dentist visit. Often just visiting a pediatric dentist with imagery, décor and staff geared toward a child’s point of view can help. Based on our experience, here are some overall effective methods you can try.
Communicate With Your Kids
First thing first: talk to your kids about their dental visit. Even if they’re only going in for a straightforward checkup, it’s vital that you give them a step-by-step summary of what they can expect. Doing so can help lessen the unknown and help them understand what they’re getting into. If they have further questions, be sure to answer them as honestly as possible. If you need help explaining to them in clear and comforting language, you can search for images online to help them visualize the process better.
Play Games or Read Stories Involving Dentists
Other than communicating with your kids, you can also relieve their stress or anxiety by playing games or reading stories about dentists in the safety and comfort of your home. You can roleplay dentist visits with the help of toolkits to give them a glimpse of what goes on inside the dental office. Alternatively, you can also read fun storybooks about children visiting the dentist to help ease their anxiety.
Use Positive Reinforcement
If there’s one thing you need to avoid, it’s using dental procedures as threats to encourage good oral hygiene. While it may seem useful at first, it may cause your kids to develop a fear of the dentist. Instead, try to use positive reinforcement to entice them to practice proper oral hygiene.
For instance, you can have a reward system for every time they finish their teeth cleaning routine. Whether that’s extra 20 minutes of screen time or buying them their favorite toy, having something to look forward to can be a great motivator for kids.
Bring a Toy Every Time You Visit
Bringing their favorite stuffed animal or toy to the clinic can be an added layer of comfort and support for your kids. The stuffy can act as their friend in times of fear and stress.
Visit a Pediatric Dentist
To ensure that your child gets the best oral care possible, be sure to visit a pediatric dentist near you. Unlike regular dentists, pediatric dentists have more knowledge and experience in dealing with children. Hence, they are more equipped at easing their worries and relieving their anxiety.
Want to learn how you can find the best pediatric dentist for your kids, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Get recommendations from friends and other parents
- Check their qualifications and reviews
- Schedule a consultation
Pediatric dentists are trained in providing the care your developing kids need to achieve the best oral health. From oral hygiene instructions, check-ups and cleanings, and dietary counseling to preventive sealants and digital x-rays, you can get the treatment you need to ensure your kid’s teeth, gums, and mouth are in optimal condition.
Should your child require more serious dental work, pediatric dentists are also trained in sedation.
Sedation Dentistry Options To Calm Children
Although some parents have concerns about the use of sedation during dental procedures, know that this option is completely safe and effective. There are two main options to choose from, so to help you get a better idea, we’ll discuss the choices in more detail below.
- Mild Sedation with Nitrous Oxide: Also known as laughing gas, this is when a pediatric dentist administers your child a gas to breath to reduce their anxiety. https://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/BP_UseofNitrous.pdf
- Monitored Anesthesia Care: For children who are younger or more anxious, a pediatric dentist may opt for monitored anesthesia care where an anesthesiologist injects an IV to directly inject sedatives into their bloodstream.
Find the Best Pediatric Dentist at Bay Area Kids Dentists
Want to find the best children’s dentist for your children? Look no further than Bay Area Kids Dentists. We have board-certified pediatric dentists who are trained to examine and treat children in the safest and most comfortable way possible.
With our expertise in handling infants, children, teens, and those with special needs, Bay Area Kids Dentists have the equipment needed to ensure that every child receives the care they need.
Book an appointment today and start your child’s oral care journey with Bay Area Kids Dentists.