One study found that 47% of children had some level of dental anxiety before a dental care appointment. Children who don’t learn how to get over a fear of the dentist may continue to have dental anxiety as adults.
Did you know that you can help your child get over their fear of going to the dentist?
In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about overcoming the fear of pediatric dentistry. Continue reading to make visiting your kid’s dentist more fun for both of you!
Why Do Some Children Have a Fear of the Dentist?
Before you can help your child get over a fear of the dentist, it’s important to understand why they’re afraid. Children who have never been to the dentist may be afraid due to a simple misunderstanding or misinformation.
Other fears might be related to other conditions such as anxiety or shyness, which are more challenging to overcome. If you aren’t sure why your child has a fear of going to the dentist, consider asking them as a starting point.
Bad Experience With Dental Care
If your kid is afraid of getting dental care after a recent visit, they may have had a bad experience. This can be due to unavoidable problems such as having instruments in their mouth, but it also could be related to staff.
General dentistry staff don’t specialize in pediatric dentistry and aren’t always great with children. If staff aren’t friendly and reassuring (or decide to hold down or scold your child), they can make the dentist scary for kids.
Choosing a clinic that specializes in pediatric dentistry is essential to avoid negative experiences like this.
Even when it doesn’t seem like it, children are paying attention to everything happening around them. Family, friends and even the media can make the dentist seem scary. They can create inaccurate pictures and expectations.
Fear of the Unknown
Some children aren’t fearful because of what they know about the dentist but what they don’t know. The idea of a stranger working on their teeth can be enough information to scare a young child.
How to Get Over a Fear of the Dentist
Depending on the cause, you can help your child learn how to get over a fear of the dentist. The key is to take your time and not push them too much. When children are afraid of dental care, change is gradual, not immediate.
Incorporate the Dentist at Home
Whether they’ve been to the dentist before or not, try incorporating the dentist at home and make it fun. Get a play kit filled with dentist toys and read them children’s storybooks about going to the dentist.
This helps give children a new perspective on the dentist. Instead of a kid’s dentist seeming unfamiliar or scary, they have a better idea of what to expect. They’re also more likely to realize that the dentist is helpful.
Be Aware of How You Portray Dental Care
Be careful about how you and your family talk about dental care. Adults with a fear of the dentist may accidentally pass this on to children by how they talk about the dentist.
Teach children how important dental care is from an early age so they’ll be motivated to take care of them. Plus, the better they take care of their teeth when they’re young, the easier dental care will be in the future.
Start Visits Early
The sooner you start visits to a pediatric dentistry clinic, the less influence outside factors have on your child’s perspective. Many children start seeing the dentist within the first 6 months after their first tooth comes in.
All children should go to a kid’s dentist no later than 12 months after their first tooth appears. If your child seems nervous about their first visit, ask your dentist if they can stop by for a ‘fun visit’ just to meet the staff.
Keep Your Visits Separate
Avoid bringing your kid to your dentist appointments. Even routine visits can be scary for children when they see their parents getting dental work done. It can be especially traumatizing if they witness painful procedures.
Only Share the Necessities
Some parents want to prepare their kids for their dental care appointment, especially if they’re learning how to get over a fear of the dentist. While it’s important to prepare them, you should avoid oversharing the details.
If your child hasn’t been to the dentist, even simple procedures can sound scary if you go into too much detail. Only share necessary details such as what the appointment is for and avoid explaining how the procedure works.
Having their parents by their side for moral support can help overcome a child’s fear of going to the dentist. However, you have to do your best to stay calm if you want to help them remain calm.
If your child sees that you’re nervous, they’re more likely to be nervous. Even if they start to act out during their appointment, keep your cool at all times. Don’t be afraid to take a break to collect yourself if you need to.
Help Them Relax
If your child can’t seem to get over their fear of the dentist, try teaching them some relaxation techniques. This can include deep breathing exercises or stretches to relieve muscle tension and anxiety.
Incorporating their imagination can also help distract them from their fear of the dentist. Have them practice these techniques at home and do them together.
Choose the Right Pediatric Dentist
The best way to help your child get over their fear of the dentist is to choose the right pediatric dentistry clinic. A kid’s dentist specializes in making the dentist more kid-friendly. They also have more patience for fearful kids.
To find the right kid’s dentist, ask them about their approach to dental anxiety in children. They can help make your child’s dental care appointment less intimidating. They may even be able to make it a fun visit!
Getting Over the Fear of the Dentist
Helping a child get over their fear of the dentist starts with understanding their fear. This will guide you toward the best techniques to relieve their anxiety as well as the best kid’s dentist for their next visit.
If you need a dentist that’s loved by kids and trusted by parents, contact us today to schedule an appointment.