One of the first and most important aspects of dental care has nothing to do with teeth; it’s about creating a welcoming environment that soothes the anxious dental patient – and that’s just as important for adults as it is for children. At Martin Taylor Dentistry, we believe that the dental experience should be calm and stress-free, no matter the procedure or age of the patient.
However, whether it’s due to previous experience or just an ingrained reaction to a new environment, some kids experience a little fear and anxiety when it comes time for a dental visit.
Tips to help ease your child’s dental anxiety
While our staff strives to provide a warm, gentle, positive environment for your child, implementing a few tips to help ease the anxiety can help your child’s next dental visit go as peacefully as possible.
Begin dental care while your child is young
We recommend beginning dental visits no later than one year of age, or after the first tooth emerges. Building positive dental experiences from a young age not only helps to reduce anxiety for subsequent visits, it also helps ensure your child’s dental health from an early age. Like anything else, being a model for good dental habits will go a long way to teaching your children the importance of regular care.
Prepare your child for dental care at home
Before the visit, “play dentist” at home; use a toothbrush, reclining chair and mirror to make your child’s toothbrushing experience a bit more similar to a dental visit and explain what the real visit will be like. If you like, switch roles and allow your child to help count your teeth or even perform a dental visit on a doll or stuffed animal.
Promote good oral hygiene
Building positive oral hygiene habits at home, including regular brushing and flossing, reinforces the importance of continuing good dental care in the office setting. Consider reading books about the importance of dental visits and remind your child that a dentist is just a tooth doctor who wants to help them keep their teeth healthy.
Children’s dental visits are usually fairly straightforward, so you can avoid words like “hurt,” “pain,” “shots” and “no fun,” while maintaining honesty. Keep things simple – “We’re going to let the dentist see your big smile and count your teeth” is usually all that is necessary.
Stay in the room and allow a comfort object
If your child remains anxious in the time immediately preceding the appointment, bring along something for them to hold onto when they’re feeling nervous or scared. Some children have a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, while others may just want you to hold hands. Sometimes, your presence in the exam room is enough to reassure a child that they are safe and everything is proceeding normally.
Remain calm even if they are not
Children can sense your emotional cues and may become more upset if they can sense you’re anxious about their behavior. Our staff is accustomed to examining children and has built a warm, personalized approach to dealing with those who may be anxious.
Don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a brief meeting or walk-through of our office. Or, simply state your concerns when you schedule your child’s next dental visit, and we will be happy to accommodate your needs. Your child’s comfort and oral health are worth the effort.