Dental Anxiety in Children
It’s common for children—and adults—to feel afraid, stressed, or anxious when it comes to visiting their dentist. While many kids don’t enjoy going to the dentist, they don’t necessarily feel fear or anxiety but some children experience very real fear and anxiety. If parents and dentists don’t work together early on to reduce/eliminate these fears, they can develop into an actual phobia. At Orange Grove Family Dentistry, our office is designed to help children feel safe, relaxed, and comfortable at each of their visits. We work at every visit to minimize fears and create positive dental experiences for children.
Why Do Children Fear the Dentist?
It’s normal to feel a little anxiety when a visit to the dentist is coming up, especially for children. But, to help your child with their dental anxiety, you should understand why they feel anxious.
- Pain. Whether your child has heard about a painful experience that a parent or sibling had or if they’ve had a painful experience themselves, it’s understandable that they’re afraid. Children also often are afraid of needles associated with some dental work.
- Embarrassment. If a child has obvious oral health issues, such as decay, they can feel self-conscious and embarrassed.
- Lack of control. Fear of losing control is related to the fear of pain. A child knows that the big person with the pointy instruments is in charge. If there’s pain or discomfort, the child may very likely feel that he or she has no control over it.
Helping Your Child Overcome Dental Anxiety
You can help your child manage and overcome their fears as a parent. We’ve included some of our dental anxiety management tips so you can help your children have a positive experience at every dental visit.
- Take them to the dentist early on. It’s recommended children visit a dentist when their first tooth appears or by their first birthday.
- Visit a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists are uniquely trained to care for children’s oral health, helping them feel safe and comfortable during visits.
- Let them bring something that comforts them such as a toy or blanket. This helps your child feel more comfortable during their entire visit.
- Speak positively about dental visits. The way you speak about the dentist can directly impact how your child sees the dentist; so it’s important that you don’t speak poorly about dental visits.
- Focus on practicing good oral health habits at home. When children are familiar with brushing, flossing, and the importance of oral health, it helps them have fewer oral health issues and more-positive experiences at the dentist.
- Give positive reinforcement. Before, during, and after dental visits, give your child praise for being able to take the steps required to have a healthy smile.
If you have any questions about pediatric dental anxiety or are ready to schedule your child’s dental visit—contact the Orange Grove Family Dentistry team, located in Orange, CA.