Dental anxiety, also known as dental phobia, is a feeling of extreme nervousness or fear associated with going to the dentist. It is an extremely common issue that affects 9 out of 10 people.
One of the best ways to prevent your child's anxiety is to begin visiting the dentist's office while they're very young. This is a good way to break the ice and ease them into the process, so they feel safe and comfortable when they return for future appointments. Don't be afraid to bring your infant with you to your checkup and cleanings! It is a great way to introduce them to the sights and sounds of the dental office without overwhelming them. It is also helpful to build positive associations so that they will look forward to their visits instead of dreading them.
Taking something soothing along with you to the visit can also help take the edge off. This can be anything from a favorite toy to a stuffed animal or even a security blanket – anything that makes the child feel safe and secure will help calm them down.
Show your child books that portray a visit to the dentist in a positive way. Some good choices include "No More Monsters!" by Dan Green and "I Need My Monster" by Amanda Noll. These books are great tools for introducing children to the idea of visiting the dentist. Let them become familiar with it early so that they can have positive associations when the time comes for their first visit.
Tell him or her what to expect at their appointment and be truthful. Talk to them about cleanings and checkups and explain to them why each is necessary. They should understand that not all dental procedures are painful. Some, like fluoride treatments and sealants, are actually beneficial and not uncomfortable at all.
When teaching your kids about the importance of oral health, be sure to lead by example! This means practicing good oral hygiene habits at home, like brushing and flossing daily, and avoiding sugary foods and drinks that can damage teeth. You should also visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and exams to detect any issues early on while they're still treatable.
At-home dental care is the foundation for your child's dental health, and professional care helps it stay that way. This helps them avoid cavities and other common dental problems that can arise when kids don't take good care of their smile. Instilling a strong at-home routine helps them maintain great oral health throughout their life and provides your pediatric dentist with the information he needs to spot problems early so he can treat them before they spread and cause more harm to your child's teeth and gums.
Learn how to work up the courage to go to the dentist yourself. Your children will imitate you and follow your lead. Be courageous so your kids will be too and feel safe at the dental office.
Children can sense when their parents feel nervous about something. If you're apprehensive or scared about going to the dentist yourself, your child will pick up on this, and it will be hard for them to feel calm around their visit as well. Instead, reassure them that there's nothing to be afraid of and that you both feel like you have a great relationship with the staff. They will feel more comfortable from knowing this and be more likely to take their cues from you when it comes to their emotions. Help them understand why they need to brush their teeth twice a day, floss every night, and visit the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. This will help them understand the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene after they grow up and no longer receive reminders from their parents or teachers. You may even want to read stories about going to the doctor's office.
If you would like to know more about what our dental treatments entail and what your options are, give us a call at (760) 804-0080 or schedule an online appointment to visit our dental practice in Carlsbad, CA.