Oral health in children is vital but it can be such a challenge to convince your child to say yes to a dentist visit if they have dental anxiety. Pediatric dental anxiety is actually quite common in children. There are some kids who might enjoy dental check-ups but there is also a big percentage of children who experience mild to extreme bouts of anxiety because of their fear.
Not knowing how to deal with this problem can aggravate your child’s issues even more. In worst cases, it can affect their dental health and they may even carry this fear into adulthood.
So, how do you help ease your child’s dental anxiety? Here are some effective ways of managing pediatric dental anxiety:
Start them young.
Taking your child for a dental visit at an early age will help familiarize them with the intimidating dentist office. According to the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, you can start taking your child to the dentist within six months after the first tooth appears. Routine visits when they become toddlers, even if just for quick checkups fun educational trips, will desensitize them of their fear of dentists.
Find a friendly dentist.
A familiar face, like a family friend or a relative, will not be as frightening as a stranger. The best option is a family dentist who ideally has a good relationship with your whole family unit. If that’s not available, ask for recommendations from trusted close friends or relatives who know pediatric dentists.
The small details of the dental clinic are also important. Try to find a clinic with kid-friendly designs and an overall kid-friendly vibe.
Incorporate dental education through play.
Sometimes, the best way to communicate an important lesson to a child is through play. A serious conversation about dental health might not be ideal or appropriate for a three or four year old.
To make them interested in your message, come up with fun activities like role play. Play dentist at home and show them how to brush or clean teeth properly. Another great idea is to read dental storybooks as part of your daily or nightly routine. There are several books out there that have colorful illustrations and informative plots that your child can enjoy.
Constantly lecturing your child on the proper way to act around a dentist or forcing them to face their fear is not an effective solution to this issue. To be able to communicate effectively, you must first listen to what they want to say. Make sure to ask questions and encourage them to speak up. Be patient and loving so they will be comfortable opening up.
Lead by example.
The most effective way of teaching your child the importance of oral hygiene is by showing them. If you have dental anxiety yourself, you might be unknowingly passing on that fear to your child. You will have to manage and overcome your dental anxiety first before instructing them to keep their dentist fears at bay.
Practice great oral hygiene at home as a family. Set your child’s expectations and make sure you take care of your own teeth to. If your kids see that you put importance in dental health and you get excited over regular dental visits, they would eventually realize that there is nothing to be scared about.