Dental Anxiety in Children
Children’s Fear of the Dentist
It is common for kids to be scared of their initial visit to the dentist. However, at Dental Associates, our experienced pediatric dentists will help your child to overcome their fear and feel comfortable at the dentist.
3 tips to calm dental anxiety in children:
- Remain positive. If your child sees that you are positive, they are more likely to have a better attitude as well
- Refrain from using words like pain, shots, or cavity
- Try not to bribe your child with candy or other goodies. This can cause them to expect these things from dental visits when they are older, too
Dental anxiety isn’t just for kids! Read about dental anxiety in adults.
Making a Child Feel Comfortable at the Dentist
A child’s first dental visit can greatly impact their view of going to the dentist for the rest of their life. This is why we have the most compassionate pediatric dentists on our team who will help your child to feel comfortable at their first visit and beyond.
Our experienced pediatric dentists use various techniques to help your child feel comfortable.
“Tell-Show-Do”: Think of this like “show-and-tell” in grade school. During your child’s visit, our pediatric dentist names an instrument, points it out and picks it up. They may do something to further introduce your child to the instrument, such as counting their fingers. The dentist will then use the instrument in the exam.
Lap-to-Lap technique: This technique involves a parent during an exam, thus helping the child to feel more comfortable during their visit. Learn more about the lap-to-lap technique to help calm an anxious child.
Praise: Your pediatric dentist will point out things your child is doing right during the exam. This will reinforce positive behavior and will let your child know that the exam is going well.
Distraction: The pediatric dentist might tell a story or distract the child’s attention in some other way so the child isn’t focused on the exam and cleaning.
Nonverbal communication: The pediatric dentist may also use a simple smile or frown to reinforce positive behavior and discourage negative behavior.
Parent participation: Infants and young children may feel more comfortable with a parent in the exam room during the first dental visit. However, parents of older children may be asked to wait in the waiting area so that the dentist and child can develop a comfortable relationship. Please note that if your child is under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian must be present in the facility during dental appointments.
Overall, you can help your child feel more comfortable at the dentist by ensuring they establish a good brushing and flossing routine at home. This will help them to feel less anxious because they are more used to ongoing oral hygiene.
Calming an Anxious Child or a Child with Dental Anxiety
It is common for children to be anxious or nervous during their first dental visit. However, our experienced pediatric dentists help calm your child to ensure their visit goes as smoothly as possible.
If your child does have dental anxiety or behavioral issues at the first dental visit, your pediatric dentist will help your child remain calm through several techniques:
Praise: The dentist will tell your child when they are behaving well. This helps to reinforce good behavior.
Voice control: This usually takes care of any behavior that may be deemed unsafe. We certainly don’t want a child to hurt themselves because they’re scared. A calm, yet firm voice usually curbs unsafe behavior.
Sedation: In extreme cases, mild sedation, such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or a liquid sedative, may be suggested. This is a very safe and common approach to calming a restless child for a dental examination.
Dental anxiety can lengthen a dental visit and put stress on a young child. But with care and patience, your child will have a comfortable experience at Dental Associates.
Dental Associates offers complete family dentistry plus specialty services like orthodontics, oral surgery, and dental implants. Click to learn more.