Dental anxiety in children has become increasingly common and is recognized as a major public health concern as well. Here’s what you can do to help your child combat dental anxiety.
By Grace Clark
Children always fear going to the dentist. In fact, this is a perfectly normal sensation for any child to feel but it has been discovered that people who suffer from dental phobia tend to experience panic symptoms such as cardiac sensations, shaking, sweating, dizziness and even paresthesia.
However, the good news is that you can take certain steps to alleviate your child’s dental phobia. Letting your child get comfortable with regular dental visits can set a positive tone for a lifetime of good oral health.
We look at 9 tips that will help you change your child’s perspective on visiting the dentist:
Having a friendly dentist will help your child overcome his fear of visiting the dentist. One great option is to take your child to a dentist who is known to your whole family so that familiarity is not an issue. Always try and find a dentist that has been trained in caring for children’s teeth and whose clinic exudes a kid-friendly vibe.
Dental care should start from an early age. It is generally recommended that you should take your child to the dentist around his first birthday. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests that you should start taking your child to the dentist within 6 months of his first tooth erupting. Regular and routine visits from a young age will help desensitize them of their fear of dental visits.
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Children tend to become a lot more co-operative and docile when you give them a sense of predictability. You can describe the entire procedure to them in detail and what they are likely to experience. You can even ask your dentist to demonstrate the dental procedure on your child to put him at ease. This is usually known as the “tell-show-do” method which will give your child a sense of control and predictability.
Create a complete 2-way communication path between your child and the dentist as constant lecturing may force them to fear dental visits. Encourage your children to speak up and voice their feelings and any fears they may have as this will help establish good communication.
Distraction is helpful in minimizing dental anxiety. Giving praise and compliments tend to work as effective reinforcements.
You can pretend to act out your child’s first dental visit prior to the actual dental visit by pretending to be the dentist and your child the patient. This practice drill will help them ease into the idea of visiting the family dentist. Avoid making any drilling sounds or using any instruments and allow your child to role-play so they become familiar with the routine.
Don’t over complicate the situation when getting ready for the dental visit by taking too many precautions and including too many details. This is bound to raise a lot more questions, so it is best to simply have a positive approach towards the visit with your child.
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Let the dental staff who are trained to work with children handle the situation with their own vocabulary.
Teach your child about the importance of having good oral hygiene and how it can be maintained with regular visits to the dentist. Explain how regular dental visits and good dental practices can prevent cavities and ensure that they keep their smiles for a long time.
Allowing your children to have a feeling of control is helpful and makes them more comfortable and co-operative. Another way to give your children a feeling of control and predictability is implementing the tell-show-do technique whereby they are told exactly what is going to happen before it happens.
If all else fails in alleviating your child’s dental phobia then it would be best if you ask your dentist about your alternatives in lessening your child’s phobia. Your dentist can suggest different treatments like sedation or protective stabilization but if the phobia is generalized then you can opt for therapy with a child psychologist.
A dental marketer at Michael G. Long DDS and a believer in holistic health, Grace Clark lives by the rule that health and happiness go hand in hand. She writes on various topics focusing on dental and oral hygiene, healthy living and holistic health. When she’s not working or blogging, she enjoys spending her time with her family and volunteering at the local youth centers where she educates children about the importance of health and fitness.
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