Many children get nervous when they face the unexpected. Even though most dental procedures are painless, the fear of the unknown can make a child feel uneasy. A dentist’s office is filled with unfamiliar noises and strange equipment. As a parent, you want to ease their fears while providing access to high-quality dental care. Try these tips to ease your child’s fear of the dentist.
Choose a Family Dentistry Practice
When it comes to pediatric dentistry, experience matters. Choosing a family practice is a great first step to ensuring your child’s dentistry experiences are positive. A family dentist has experience treating patients of all ages. Children are at their best when their life is predictable. Keeping this in mind, a family dentist will work to build a rapport with the child and will keep them informed on every step of the visit in an age appropriate manner.
Portray a Positive Attitude as a Parent
A recent study showed that there is a strong correlation between a parent’s dental fear and anxiety and a child’s. The more a parent, particularly a mother, shows fear or displays anxiety about their own or their child’s upcoming dental treatment, the more affected the child is. Displaying a calm attitude about your own dental appointments as well as your child’s can ease their overall anxiety level. Rather than reinforce negative feelings with phrases like, “everyone hates to go to the dentist,” engage your child positively about their upcoming dental treatment and the life-long benefits of routine dental care.
You may notice that the dentist asks your child seemingly unrelated questions to his or her treatment. What did you do this summer? Where do you like to go on vacation? Part of this builds a relationship with your child, but more importantly, it provides an important distraction. Most children enjoy talking about their favorite things and this tactic can work to make the appointment fly by.
Be a Reassuring Presence
When a child is stressed, he or she is usually reassured by the mere presence of a loved one. For an unusually anxious child, the dentist may ask you to sit close to the child, hold their hand, or talk to them. The dentist may also ask you to model a procedure before it happens so the child can see it for themselves. This makes the appointment more predictable and therefore, less frightening.
In general, the earlier a child begins routine dental visits the better. Once the first few teeth are visible, you should schedule the first visit. This practice will provide a dental home for your child where they can become familiar with the staff and dentists, all of which reduces future anxiety.
Kennedy Dental Group is a full-service dental practice located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We specialize in family dentistry, treating patients of all ages. Call Kennedy Dental to schedule your next appointment at 919-967-9291.