Helpful Tips For Parents Of Children Experiencing Dental Anxiety

dental continuing education

Being scared of the dentist is an experience many children go through. In fact, almost 20% of school-aged children have some level of dental anxiety. The effects of this fearfulness can be severe and may lead to poor oral health, deficient hygiene practices and even persistent fear into adulthood. To avoid these outcomes, it’s essential that parents take the necessary steps to make dental care and oral hygiene less intimidating. Below are a few tips to give parents a better understanding of dental anxiety and how to help their child overcome it.

First, let’s look into the most common reasons behind a child developing dental anxiety. Factors leading to this apprehension include a previous visit that was scary or painful, the strange sights, sounds and smells of the office and inadequate preparation before the appointment. Children may also learn to fear the dentist from siblings and even their own parents’ outlook on dental care. As such, it’s crucial to make seeing the dentist and practicing healthy hygiene habits a priority from a young age.

What are some other ways to help children get past these fears or even prevent them from developing? There are several approaches and, while every child is different and one tactic may work better than another, the main component to them all is communication. Starting early, go over the importance of maintaining strong teeth and gums while explaining that the dentist only wants to help keep their mouth healthy. Talking to your little one in advance about what will happen during the appointment and what to expect from the dentist could go a long way in helping him or her feel prepared and less anxious.

During this discussion it’s important to use easy-to-understand terms and comforting language, as well as honesty, when answering your child’s questions. Along the same lines, let your child express his or her fears so they can be better addressed. It may also be helpful to use children’s books or online search images to describe the equipment, the dental chair and other elements so that they might not be so scary in person.

If you feel uncomfortable or unequipped to cover this topic, inform the office of your child’s worries and ask for help. These professionals are trained to describe procedures to children in nonthreatening ways and provide specialized support by explaining the fear response and normalizing feelings of anxiety in their concerned patients.

It’s vital parents never use seeing the dentist as a threat. Only positive reinforcement should be used to encourage oral hygiene. One way to do so is with a reward system. By following up an appointment with an exciting activity or rewarding good dental hygiene with prizes like in a game, it could make dental care something to look forward to instead of something to be feared.

For additional pointers on helping your child with dental anxiety, please see the accompanying resource.

Provided by Cosmedent – dental continuing education

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