From a young age, we have heard everyone say things like “drinking your milk and eating your fruits and vegetables will help you grow up to be big and strong”. Well, the same thing goes for visiting the dentist. Regular visits to a dentist are a crucial part of helping a child grow up healthy and strong, to develop healthy, strong teeth. Unfortunately, though, children aren’t always so receptive to the idea, sometimes seeing a visit to the dentist as a very scary experience.
It is normal for your child to feel anxious about going to the dentist, and they are not alone in feeling that way. Research has shown that about 75 percent of people in the United States experience dental anxiety. People who experience this intense type of fear about going to the dentist go through a cycle of avoiding the dentist and dental care altogether. Avoiding the dentist can be detrimental to your oral health, and your overall health.
Kids are very perceptive, and often imitate what they observe. If you as a parent have gone to the dentist and showed some sort of pain or anxiety, those feelings have most likely past onto your child. Teaching kids about good oral health and hygiene starts at home. Have your child visit the dentist with you for a teeth cleaning appointment, so they can see first-hand about how procedures are done, and what the environment is like, so that when it comes time for their turn at the dentist, they will associate their experience with yours, and realize that going to the dentist is important, and not scary. In other words, showing your child why they don’t have to be afraid of the dentist from a young age will instill a positive attitude about how important dental health is, that they will carry with them throughout their whole life.
For people who experience severe dental anxiety, going to a dentist where there is a more calm and positive environment, often helps to ease anxiety and fears. Today, dentists use a method called gentle dentistry, which utilizes a variety of behavioral strategies and techniques to help reduce dental fear for their patients.
Dentists who utilize gentle dentistry have been trained to be more sensitive and caring to how their patients feel, and use techniques to help ease their pain and anxiety to make the procedure or dental cleaning that they are receiving a more relaxing, reassuring, and comfortable experience.
Cognitive and behavioral techniques, such as positive reinforcement, non-threatening behavior, and patient education, can all be instrumental in helping patients psychologically overcome their fear and anxiety.
Tips for Preparing Your Child for Their Dental Visit
Children don’t always say how they feel. As a parent, it can be difficult to know how to help a child through something, such as being nervous for a visit to the dentist. There are things you can do as a parent, though, and with some preparation and the right pediatric dentist, it’s possible that a trip to the dentist can be a more enjoyable experience. Here are some tips on how to prepare:
- Talk and listen to your child: The most important thing you can do is have a talk with your child to comfort them, and listen to what they say. If they are feeling scared or anxious, listen to their concerns and tell them that it’s ok to feel that way, but there is nothing to be afraid of. As a child is often observing and imitating, it is better for you as the parent to stay calm throughout the conversation.
- Bring things that they can use for support: Does your child have a favorite blanket, book, stuffed animal, or toy? Bringing these items with you to the dentist office, and having familiar objects for support can help a child feel comfortable in the unfamiliar environment and sometimes unnerving place like the dentist.
- Reinforcements: Once your child finishes with the visit, it’s important to give them your own encouragement and praise. Often times, dentist offices will give them a prize, or have a system in place where kids are rewarded for being brave at their dental appointment. However, you can also do it on your own. Using reinforcements and reward, will tell them that the dentist is an important place to go, and it is not that scary. It will keep them coming back, because they will associate the dentist with getting a reward, and want to keep making themselves and other people proud. Dentist office will now be associated with positivity and fun instead of fear.
Our staff at Dedicated Dental specializes in pediatric dentistry. This means that we are skilled and trained in knowing how to deal with children of all ages, and make it fun and comfortable for them at a place like the dentist, which is often so associated with fear. Through constant open communication with our young patients, and the use of techniques of education and reinforcement, our dentists speak to children at their level and use words that kids can comprehend. Rest easy knowing your children are in great hands with the providers at Dedicated Dental.