Going to the dentist isn’t usually a cause for stress for kids and adults, but for children, there seems to be an added layer of anxiety.
Children often exhibit signs of dental anxiety, like crying or reluctance to sit in the dental chair, before their examination.
This can lead to low-quality dental work and in turn to higher prices or worse, unnecessary fear of going to the dentist. Knowing how to help your child get over their anxiety and how to handle a dental visit is essential.
We’ve put together this guide on what to do when your child is scared of the dentist.
Let’s dive in!
What Causes Children to Get Scared of the Dentist?
There are many potential causes for children to fear dentists. Some of the most common reasons include:
- The dentist being unfamiliar or scary
- The dentist using force to extract a tooth
- A previous experience with the dentist was traumatic
- The dentist wearing a mask
Identification of the Cause of the Child’s Fear
Fear of the dentist is not uncommon, and it can be caused by a variety of factors. Here are some tips to help identify the cause and alleviate your child’s fear.
If your child has always been afraid of dentists, it may be because he or she experienced a traumatic dental experience in the past. A dentist can perform an evaluation to determine if your child has had any previous dental trauma and recommend treatment if necessary.
If your child does not have a clear recollection of a traumatic dental experience, other causes of fear may need to be considered. Some children become fearful of dentists after watching horror movies or TV shows that depict scenes where people are being harmed or killed during dental procedures.
If you think this is the case for your child, talk to him or her about the movie or TV show and see if he or she is able to identify any specific scenes that trigger his or her fear.
Another possible cause of fear around dentists is anxiety about oral hygiene. Many children feel anxious about brushing their teeth and cleaning their gums because they don’t know how to do it properly. If this is the case for your child, provide instruction on proper tooth care and oral hygiene techniques, as well as modeling good habits for yourself.
Assessing Your Child’s Dental Health
It’s important to take the time to assess the situation. There are a few things you can do to help make the visit more comfortable for your child. First, be patient and reassure your child that everything will be okay.
Second, set up a plan with the dentist about how you’ll both work together to make the visit as stress-free as possible. Finally, try some dental tricks that may help calm and reassure your child.
Planning a Dental Visit with Your Child
You have to be understanding and supportive. Explain why it’s important for your child to go to the dentist and what will happen during the visit. Try not to make too much noise while your child is getting teeth cleaned or medications put into their mouth.
If you have any questions about the dental procedure, ask the dental professional before bringing up the topic with your child. Finally, try setting some small, achievable goals for your child’s dental visits over time. This will help them build confidence in going to the dentist and make visits more enjoyable for all involved.
Handling Anxiety During Dental Visits
First, try to reassure them that the dentist is just like a doctor and that everything will be okay. If they are still very nervous, you may need to try some different techniques to get them relaxed.
One popular technique is ice cream: give your child a small bowl of ice cream before their appointment and have them eat it while waiting in the dentist’s office. This will create a sense of calm and familiarity, which should help your child feel more at ease.
If anxiety is preventing your child from having regular dental appointments, it may be worth talking to their pediatrician about possible therapy or medication options. Here is a detailed guide to pediatric dental hygiene for parents, do check it out.
Tips for Overcoming Fear of Dentists
Try to reassure them that dentists are good people who just want to help them. If that doesn’t work, try some simple techniques to make the dental office more comfortable for them. For example, if they’re scared of the drills and needles, try having the dentist or dental assistant explain what they’re doing before doing it.
If the fear is just general anxiety about going to the dentist, try some relaxation techniques before the appointment. Also, make sure that you have a positive experience at the appointments.
This means that you should go into it with realistic expectations and be excited about what will happen. If your child is having trouble during the appointment, keep a positive attitude and calmly explain what is happening to your child. If all else fails, consider seeking professional help.
Also, offer them stickers or other objects to hold while they’re in the chair, and keep a toy or book nearby to distract them. Finally, be sure to discuss any dental procedures with your child ahead of time so they know what’s going to happen and why.
If your child is scared of the dentist, there are a few things you can do to help ease their anxiety. First, be patient with them and try not to make the appointment more important than it needs to be.
Next, make sure that you are physically present for the appointment — this will help reassure them that everything is going to be okay. Finally, talk about the dental procedure with them beforehand so that they have a better understanding of what’s going to happen.
For more articles and guides about overcoming dental anxiety and fear, please check out other pages of our blog, and don’t miss out!