6 Tips to Help Your Child Overcome Dental Anxiety

Everyone knows how important it is for kids to visit the dentist every six months. The consequences of not having regular dental care, especially during the critical growth and development years, just sets the stage for more problems down the road. A better solution: Try applying some of these tips - as early in your child’s life as possible - to nip dental anxiety in the bud so seeing the dentist isn’t a stressful experience for your child - or you.

  • Start young - preferably by the time your child is one year of age. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, that’s the age by which every child should have an initial dental exam to identify any potential problems that could require early intervention as they get older. These early visits are also important for helping parents learn the techniques they can use to help their kids keep their teeth and gums healthy. Starting early also gets your child used to the dental visit routine so it becomes a normal part of their routine.

  • Prepare your child with some make-believe. Tap into a child’s ability to role play by letting them be the dentist while a doll or stuffed animal plays the patient. Use a mirror and a toothbrush to explain the basic concepts of the visit without becoming too detailed. Count your child’s teeth, demonstrate how to brush and hold the mirror up to show them how the dentist will examine their back teeth. Then let them repeat the exercise on their toy patient. Another option: Look for children’s books about dental visits that feature familiar cartoon characters.

  • Don’t regale them with your own experiences. Many parents make the mistake of thinking they can help their child accept dental visits by telling them how they overcame their own fear or how they dealt with a cavity or other issue when they were children. While the intention may be good, opening up the door to anxious memories can increase your child’s own anxieties. 

  • Set an example. Practice good oral hygiene yourself, including regular brushing and flossing and routine trips to the dentist. When your appointment draws near, be careful not to “telegraph” your own anxiety to your child. Afterall, if you are a patient at Dream Smile Dental, you most likely look forward to going to going to the dentist. If your child sees you treating dental visits as “just a part of life,” they’re far more likely to accept visits in their own lives as well.

  • Let them know dentist visits aren’t a choice - they’re a necessary part of life. Help them understand the importance of good oral health and how seeing the dentist regularly is very important to keeping them healthy as they grow. Being matter-of-fact about regular dental visits helps allay anxiety while also preventing pre-visit meltdowns and tears. That said, be ready for some fussing, especially if your child has had a shot or other cavity treatment in the past, or if they’ve heard unpleasant stories from others.

  • And finally, choose a dentist with experience in pediatric dentistry. Dentists who offer care and treatment specifically for children are skilled in using techniques and terminology that help make the visit more relaxing. They’re used to dealing with kids of all ages, including kids who are anxious. And that means they’ll be able to zero-in on the best approach to help your child remain relaxed and calm.

Dream Smile Dental is a top provider of pediatric dentistry in Canton, Massachusetts, offering complete care for kids from infants to teens. Our team has extensive experience in in-depth evaluations and assessments designed to spot problems early so they can be treated using the safest and most effective approaches. To find out more about the pediatric dentistry services we offer or to schedule a visit for your child, call Dream Smile Dental today at 781-330-0900 or use our online form to request an appointment today.

Tagged: pediatric dentistry