Bertagnolli Dental has put together some tips for managing your child's dentist anxiety and ensuring they have a positive experience. At our offices, we see many children and their parents for dental check-ups and procedures. A significant percentage of children do not look forward to their visit to the dentist. Usually, their anxiety disappears during the actual visit, but it can be stressful for parents and kids to deal with tears and meltdowns in the lead-up to a visit. So, let’s see if these tips do the trick:
- Lead by example. If parents have dental anxiety, this can often be picked up by children and internalized. If you do dislike going to the dentist, try not to show this to your kids. Make sure you lead by example regarding dental hygiene and regularly visiting the dentist. When children see their parents doing this without a problem, they are more likely to accept it as a normal part of life, and not something they should be afraid of.
- Create positive associations. By this, we do not mean bribing your kids to got to the dentist. Creating positive associations with dentist visits is something you can do consistently as your child grows up. Start by reading them books about going to the dentist where the main character has a positive experience. Make an effort to tell your kids about their family members and friends going to the dentist and the positive results they have experienced (a healthy mouth, strong teeth, beautiful smile, no more toothache, etc.). If you ever talk about going to visit the dentist in terms of a punishment or a threat, this will quickly create a negative association and teach your child to fear the dentist.
- Go to a family dentist. A pediatric or family dental clinic will have plenty of experience in working with the kids and will often be more sensitive to their needs. Visiting a family focused dentist can make all the difference to your child's attitude. The presence of toys, other kids, and fun distractions during procedures can put their mind at ease. A pediatric dentist will also be able to provide suitable sedation for children if required.
- Start young and keep up with appointments. Hopefully, your child's first visit to the dentist was before their first birthday. Usually, the first tooth will appear when your baby is between six months and one year old. Starting their visits to the dentist at this age and then following up every six months will get your child accustomed to the routine and procedures of the dentist appointment early. Leaving too much time between visits can allow the child to forget the reality of the dentist and let anxiety to grow.
Often, children who suffer from dental anxiety carry this into their adult life, where it can have a serious impact on their oral health. Starting them off with healthy habits and routines at a young age will pay off in the long run. If you have any questions about these tips for managing your child's dentist anxiety, do not hesitate to contact us here at Bertagnolli Dental in Westminster, Colorado.