Dental anxiety is a common issue in kids, and it’s not something that you or your children should be ashamed of. Many kids fear going to the dentist, often because of the stories they hear or the things they see on TV. But while dealing with dental anxiety in kids can be a burden, it’s not without solutions.
As parents, it’s crucial to manage your children’s fear of the dentist before it gets worse and interferes with their oral health. And because there’s nothing quite like a radiant and beautiful smile, we’ve compiled a list of simple but effective ways that will make dentist visits and dental care for kids more manageable.
Read Dental Storybooks
Storybooks are an excellent and fun way to educate children on matters they might have a harder time comprehending. And when it comes to dental anxiety, there are plenty of children’s books out there that talk about visits to the dentist.
Many parents will find dental books to be a helpful tool in reducing the fear of dentists in children. The colorful illustrations combined with enjoyable and charming stories about the main characters' experience will give them a preview and an understanding of what their time at the dentist is going to be like!
Play Pretend Dentist At Home
You know what they say, “Practice makes perfect.” And the same is true when it comes to helping kids overcome their fear of dentists. On the days leading to your child’s dental appointment, play dentist with him or her at home.
Stage a pretend dental visit where you role-play as the dentist. Do some of the most basic things that dentists do on a check-up: hold up a mirror to count and examine their teeth, teach them about proper tooth-brushing, etc. Activities like this help ease anxiety by assuring children that it's going to be okay.
Set A Pre-Dental Appointment Meeting
Arranging a quick meet-and-greet appointment with the dentist a day or two before the scheduled visit will go a long way toward easing your child’s fear and dental anxiety.
During the pre-dental appointment, you can give your child a short tour of the dental office and get him or her acquainted with the dentist and the staff. Let your kids build rapport with the dental office personnel. Children usually feel more confident when they know or are familiar with the people they’re dealing with.
Let Them Know What To Expect
Often, the best way to ease dental anxiety in children is by being honest about what to expect during the visit – but gently and reassuringly.
Most of the time, children get stressed out about visiting the dentist because they have no idea what’s going to happen. Avoid informing your children of their dental appointment at the last minute. Just like you, they also need time to prepare themselves mentally for a situation that's entirely new to them.
Also, if children show signs of anxiety or ask questions about what's likely to happen, try to explain the situation in a way that they can understand. Vague answers like "don't worry" or "everything's going to be fine” rarely help in easing the fear.
Go To A Family Dentist
When it comes to children’s dental and oral health, family dentists are your best option. It’s a challenge to make children sit still in a dental chair. Family dental clinics, however, are usually filled with toys and other fun stuff that help calm children as they wait for their turn. Moreover, the staff and the dentists are experienced in handling kids and making sure that they have a positive dental experience.
Start Them Young
Familiarity breeds comfort – and that's why it's recommended for parents to start bringing kids for dental check-ups as soon as their first tooth appears.
Taking your kids to the dentist even before they turn one year old will not only benefit their overall oral health, it will also help them become comfortable with dental procedures and significantly reduce their chances of developing dental anxiety in the future.
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Amanda McIntyre is a Content Marketing Strategist for Dental Studio 101, a Scottsdale cosmetic dentistry clinic that specializes in providing anxiety-free dental services, including dental implants, cosmetic fillings and porcelain veneers. She enjoys reading books and being around family and friends.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.