How to Address Dental Anxiety
So what can you do if your child develops dental anxiety, either before their first visit or in advance of later visits? Here are some strategies to help your child feel less anxious at the dentist.
Ask Them Why They’re Afraid
Kids can fixate on ideas that they encounter incidentally. Sometimes a casual remark you make, something they see in a movie or on TV, or something a friend says gives them a mistaken impression you can easily clear up.
Reconsider Your Messaging
It’s important to help your child understand the need to take care of their teeth. However, sometimes parents accidentally make the dentist a villain in the process. “If you don’t brush your teeth, the dentist will have to drill them out” can give your child a frightening image of the dentist. If they know they haven’t been brushing as well or as often as they should, they will be afraid to come to the dentist.
Read Books about the Dentist
There are many good children’s books about a visit to the dentist that can help your child feel at ease about the process. When they see their favorite character going to the dentist and having a good experience, it helps them relax.
Just make sure you know the targeted age for the particular book you are getting. Some are aimed at older children who might need dental work, while others are focused on the simple visits that younger children will have.
Give Your Child Some Control
Children can feel more secure when they have some control over their situation. Before the visit, talk to your family dentist about establishing a signal that your child can use to say they want to stop. This helps them address their dental anxiety, and often they don’t even need to use the signal to stay comfortable.