Dental anxiety is a real thing, and it can be tough to see your child suffering from it.
At Elite Smiles, our Mesa dentists have a lot of experience working with kids of all ages, and we know how to help them feel more comfortable in the dental chair; but here are also many ways in which you as a parent can ease your child’s dental fear. Here are some techniques and communication styles that work and build trust.
Understanding What Your Child Is Really Afraid Of
Seeing the dentist in-and-of-itself is not what your child fears, but rather, it is feelings of a new situation (disorientation), powerlessness, pain and related issues. Talk to your child and ask them what it is that they are afraid of. This will help you understand how to best address their dental fear.
Many children are afraid of the dentist because they feel disoriented. The dental office may be new to them, as well as the dental chair and all of the equipment. Explain to your child what the dental office is for and why it is nothing to be afraid of. You can also find pictures or videos online to familiarize them with what they will experience.
One major reason for dental anxiety is feeling powerless. Your child feels like they have no control over what is happening to them. You can help by explaining the dental procedure beforehand and involving them in the process. For instance, you can let them choose which flavor of toothpaste to use or which color dental floss they want.
Another common dental fear is the fear of pain. No one likes to experience pain, but children may be especially afraid of it since they do not have as much experience dealing with it. Reassure your child that the dentist will do everything possible to make sure they are comfortable. Explain that there may be some pressure or sensation, but it should not be painful.
Let them know that you will be there with them the whole time and that they can signal to the dentist if they need a break at any point.
Take the Time to Find the Right Dentist & Dental Clinic
Not all dental clinics are created equal. It is important to find one that specializes or regularly provides pediatric dental care and that takes the time to make children feel comfortable.
Look for a clinic with a kid-friendly environment, one that has staff members who are good with kids and who make an effort to put them at ease.
It is also important to find a dentist who is willing to take the time to explain procedures and answer any questions you or your child may have.
Look for reviews online and ask around for recommendations.
Make sure the dental clinic you choose is one that you and your child feel comfortable with and that you can trust. At Elite Smiles, we pride ourselves on providing the pediatric dentistry Mesa AZ residents need for their children.
Talk to Your Child about What to Expect
Many dental fears and anxieties stem from the unknown.
To help ease your child’s dental fear, it is important to talk to them about what they can expect during their dental visit.
Be sure to explain that the dentist and dental staff are there to help them and that they will not be in any pain.
Let them know that the dentist will be taking a close look at their teeth and may need to clean them.
You can also tell them a little bit about the dental instruments that will be used.
If your child is old enough, you can even show them pictures of the dental office and dental chair to help them feel more comfortable.
Make a Dental Appointment For Your Child
Once you have talked to your child about what they can expect at the dentist, it is time to make an appointment.
When making the appointment, let the dental office staff know that your child is anxious about dental visits.
They may be able to offer some suggestions on how to make the experience more pleasant for your child.
At the Dental Appointment
Arrive early for your child’s dental appointment so that you have time to fill out any paperwork.
This will also give you a few minutes to talk to the dental staff about your child’s dental anxiety.
Let them know what has worked in the past and what you are hoping for during the appointment.
During the dental appointment, be sure to stay calm and positive.
If your child sees you get frustrated, it will only make them more nervous.
Let the dental staff do their job and resist the urge to intervene.
After the Dental Appointment
Be sure to praise your child for a job well done.
If they were anxious, congratulate them on conquering their fear.
It is also important to follow up with the dental office after the appointment to see how your child did and if there is anything else you can do to help ease their anxiety in the future.
Pediatric dentists are trained to deal with dental anxiety in children and can offer guidance on how to best help your child.
As your child becomes more familiar with the dentist, they will likely become less anxious.
It is important to set a foundation for good oral health at an early age, and pediatric dentists can help with that.