Helpful Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety in Kids

Dental anxiety is a fear of going to the dentist. It can range from a simple fear of sitting in the dentist’s chair to a full-blown panic attack. Dental anxiety is very common, and it affects people of all ages.

Start Dental Visits While They’re Young

Children should begin visiting a dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts. These early appointments are quick and painless and help to establish good oral hygiene habits for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Starting off these visits with a positive attitude will help keep your child relaxed and comfortable throughout the visit. These early visits to the dentist can help your child become more comfortable and less fearful with each future checkup. They won’t have to worry about the unknown and will know what to expect at each appointment. When children are comfortable and confident in the dental office, they’ll be able to establish great oral health habits and grow up without the fear of the dentist.

Take A Comforting Item To The Dentist’s Appointment

Doing something to take their mind off the upcoming procedure can also help ease anxiety and stress. Reading a story or playing a game that involves a trip to the dentist’s office can help take their mind off of what’s going on, so the fear doesn’t seem as severe. Using toys from the waiting room can also give your kid something to do while you’re filling out paperwork or waiting for your turn to go into the exam room. Talk to them about their favorite parts of the process as well as the parts that can be a little scary. Then, you can talk to them about how you’re going to handle each situation to make them less fearful and help them feel more in control through the experience.

Lead By Example

Leading by example can also be an effective way to get a child to listen to you and follow directions without getting upset. If they see you being nervous before a procedure, they’ll be more likely to be nervous as well. Instead, show them that you’re calm and confident when you sit in the chair and talk them through it. This can help them feel more at ease, and less scared about the procedure too.

In addition to talking through the whole process with your child to help them feel calmer, it’s also important to make cleaning teeth a part of your daily routine. Even if they don’t typically like brushing, make it a game for them where you time them to see how quickly they can brush their teeth. Or, just let them brush your teeth together so you can spend some time playing together while also taking care of your teeth at the same time. Brushing regularly can help keep cavities and other dental issues at bay so you can make fewer trips to the dentist in the future.

Read Stories Or Play Games Involving Dentist Visits

Many children’s books feature positive interactions in the dentist’s office. This allows your child to see you as a positive role model and gives them a sense of security that the dentist is not so scary after all. Reading books featuring dentist visits is a great way to start the discussion on the importance of oral health and how dentists can help.

If you are concerned that your child may be afraid of going to the dentist, read some books about dentist visits to ease any fears they may have. Getting them excited about their dentist’s appointment is a great way to get them used to the idea and make it a positive experience for them.