Let’s get one thing out there: Dental anxiety in children is extremely common, and it can make going to the dentist a difficult experience for both you and them. A fear of dentist can also lead to total avoidance later on in life, which can cause bad oral hygiene and unhealthy gums and teeth.
Being scared of the dentist doesn’t have to be a forever problem. There are several steps you can take to ensure dental anxiety is dealt with early and effectively, securing the future of your children’s smiles!
Honesty is the best policy
We know it’s tempting to sugarcoat the situation, but a fear of the dentist can actually be made worse if your child feels blindsided. A lot of dental anxiety in children originates from the fact that often they have no idea what a dentist does, or why they need to see them. That’s why it’s important to make them curious. You don’t have to know all the answers to their questions, but you should know enough to cover the basics – an unanswered question can reinforce dental anxiety in children.
To really open their eyes and eradicate being scared of the dentist, dental clinics can schedule a quick walkthrough designed to help your child understand who and what everything does. If they understand the benefits and recognise a few familiar faces, the chances are their stress levels will drop considerably!
Focus on the Positive
Being scared of the dentist often comes from the dentist being characterised as a scary figure who should be avoided. Framing them as a good guy or girl that just wants to help keep them healthy can turn dental anxiety in children around, and this all starts with talking positively. Avoid words such as ‘pain’, ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘hurt’, and start using words such as ‘healthy’, ‘smile’ and ‘clean.’
Children pick up and learn so much from their parents, and they will emulate and soak up whatever energy you are giving out. The more you teach them about how it’s good to go to the dentist, they will remember this and act on it during their next visit.
Keep Everything Simple
The basis of fear is the unknown. Dental anxiety in children can manifest itself as hundreds upon hundreds of questions. Try to keep your answers simple, as a fear of the dentist will only be intensified if their parents is being scarce or misleading about the details. Clarity is key, and fear levels can be decreased by giving them clarity on the whole process. Try and avoid the temptation of promising everything will be fine. This can’t be guaranteed and dental anxiety in children is intensified by mistrust or misinformation.
Try to explain things in ways that your kid will understand and keep a positive mindset. Get them excited to learn more, and make the learning process fun!
Use A Children Dentist
To ease a fear of the dentist – theirs and maybe yours too – try and choose one that specialises in working with kids. Visiting a dentist that you can trust with children, with caring and experienced staff can make all the difference. Some dentists may be qualified, but not necessarily child-friendly.
Pick a dental office that has been designed for kids. For example, there may be a play area, or bright colours to make the whole experience feel fun and relaxing.
Start Your Dental Visits Young
It’s a good idea to start your child’s dental visits when they’re young. Children dentists highly recommend that your child’s very first dental appointment should begin as soon as the teething process begins, which typically occurs at around 9 months to one year old.
This will help your child build a trusting relationship with the dentist, as they will become a familiar, friendly face in their life. Dental anxiety in children can occur when they only visit the dentist when there is an issue, which therefore suggests its a place associated with pain and problems.
Regular appointments mean they will view it as a normal thing to do, rather than a big deal. With routine and familiarity, the experience can feel fun and exciting, rather than something to fear.
Contact Boon Dental Today!
If your child has a fear of the dentist, let’s work on it together. Our professional and friendly staff are ready to work around your schedule and help ease your child if they’re scared of the dentist. Get in touch today.