It’s common for young children to have some apprehension or anxiety in several new or unfamiliar environments, and the dentist is a good example for some children. Not only will a first dental visit be a potentially major event for them, the idea of a stranger working on their mouth often isn’t one they’re able to grasp right away.
At Southridge Pediatric Dentistry, we offer not only a wide variety of children’s dental services, from basic checkups to dental X-rays, fluoride treatments and numerous others, but also expertise on important areas like this. We know anxiety can be an issue for children early in their dental lives, but we take a number of steps – in coordination with parents – to ensure these concerns don’t spiral into something worse, such as long-term dental phobias. Here are some basic tips we generally offer to parents when it comes to their side of this issue in children with dental anxiety.
For starters, establishing a dental home for your child as soon as possible when they begin showing teeth and requiring dental care is very important. While that first visit might be a bit tough, it’s important to introduce your child to the dentist in friendly, organic ways that hep them understand this is a safe place. If they understand early on that dental care is just a part of life, the same as any other, this area will be easier to handle moving forward.
As you’re speaking to your child about a dental appointment, whether it’s their first or they’ve already been several times, the kinds of words you use can go a long way. To start with, you want to avoid using any words that might trigger fear or anxiety – words like “shot,” “hurt” or “needle” are generally to be avoided.
Rather, focus on positive words like “healthy” or “clean.” You can also remind your child that the dentist keeps their teeth strong, another good buzzword. Using kid-friendly terms that won’t invoke fear can play a big role in reducing anxiety, especially when kids get to the dentist and realize that you were right all along.
Be prepared that, especially during early visits, there’s a decent chance you’ll see some pushback from kids. They may cry, whine or try to move around as their first examination starts. The best approach here is to look to our staff for guidance – they will handle the situation professionally and patiently, and parents should follow this lead. This will also engender trust from your child to their dental professionals.
Finally, while we do not discourage parents from using some kind of minor reward for good behavior at the dentist, this can’t be a sweet treat that will be undermining the dentist’s own work and advice. Rather, find a non-food reward of some kind to use for your child if they respond to these sorts of things.
For more on avoiding child dental phobias through proper action during their early dental years, or to learn about any of our child dental services, speak to the staff at Southridge Pediatric Dentistry today.