Dental procedures can be anxiety-inducing for children. As a parent, it is natural to want to do everything you can to help your child feel better. However, fear can make children behave in ways that make dental procedures more difficult, such as refusing to open their mouths or squirming in the chair.
Dentist anxiety or phobia, whether in children or adults, is real and is very serious because it can also cause long-term problems. Those who grow up fearing dentists are more likely to delay care, which can result in more serious problems down the road.
Dental procedures are necessary. Everyone is advised to visit a dental clinic at least twice a year for routine cleaning and checkups. So, what can parents do when children are afraid to go to the dentist?
Here are some tips on how you can help reduce your child’s anxiety before a dental procedure.
Talk About it Beforehand
Discussing the dental procedure with your child ahead of time can help reduce their anxiety. Be sure to use age-appropriate language and avoid making any promises that you may not be able to keep.
For example, don’t say “this won’t hurt a bit” if you know there is a possibility that it might. Telling them the truth in a way that they can understand will help build trust and make them more likely to cooperate during the procedure. Moreover, knowing can make the unknown less scary.
Use Distraction Techniques
There are a number of ways to distract children during dental procedures. The most common is to have them focus on something else, such as counting or singing a song. You can also ask the dentist if they offer video goggles that show movies or TV shows during the procedure. Studies have also shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety by serving as a distraction and by drowning out the sound of machines whirring.
Playing games such as “dentist office” or “doctor’s office” can help kids become more familiar with the environment and what to expect during their dental procedure. This will help them feel more comfortable and less anxious when the time comes for their actual appointment.
Bring a Comfort Item
Allowing your child to bring along a favorite stuffed animal or blanket to their dental appointment can provide them with a sense of comfort and security. This could also help prevent them from moving too much in the dentist’s chair during the procedure.
It is important to stay positive throughout the entire process, from the moment you walk into the dentist’s office until the moment you leave. Be sure to praise your child for being brave and tell them how proud you are of them.
Don’t Make a Big Deal Out of it
If you act like the dental procedure is no big deal, then chances are your child will feel the same way. If you are anxious about dental procedures, your child is likely to pick up on that and be more scared themselves. Therefore, it is important to be positive and reassuring when talking about the dentist. It is important to remain calm and relaxed so that your child doesn’t get overly anxious about the situation.
Reward Them Afterwards
After the procedure is over, be sure to praise your child again and give them a small reward for being so brave! This will help them associate getting dental work done with something positive instead of something negative.
It’s common for parents to buy their children or other sweets as a reward, but it’s important to keep in mind that sugary snacks are not good for teeth. Instead, try bringing them to the park or the arcade, so they can associate the trip to the dentist as a fun activity.
Find a Child-Friendly Dentist
The dentist can also play a big role in helping to reduce a child’s anxiety. Look for a dentist who specializes in working with kids or one who has a lot of experience treating young patients.
A good dentist will be patient, gentle, and understanding. They will take the time to answer any questions you or your child may have and make sure everyone is comfortable before starting the procedure.
Moreover, they will make sure that your child will have positive experience in the dentist’s chair. Phobias occur from bad experiences. When a child gets hurt during the procedure, they will remember it and will refuse to go back to the clinic for any procedure. A good dentist will know how to perform dental treatments while minimizing pain or discomfort as much as possible.
Dental procedures can be daunting for both children and adults alike but there are ways that parents can help ease their child’s anxiety before the appointment. By following these simple tips, you can help make the experience more pleasant for everyone involved!