Dental anxiety is a common concern that can keep kids and adults from getting the dental care they need for a healthy smile. If you or your child are fearful of going to the dentist, you are not alone. Dental anxiety affects millions of people every day.
Start Dental Visits While They’re Young
Starting your child’s dental wellness journey early will help them develop a positive association with dentistry, reduce the stress associated with the visit, and build a foundation of great oral health habits that can last their lifetime. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see the dentist around the time of their first birthday or six months after their first tooth erupts from the gums. This may seem early for a dentist visit, but taking the child to the dentist to develop these positive associations early on will ultimately be beneficial in the long run.
Take A Comforting Item To The Dentist’s Appointment
If the fear of going to the dentist is preventing your child from getting the care they need, there are a few things you can do to help put them at ease. One common trick for putting a child at ease during a dental visit is to take something the child loves with them. This can help distract them and ease any anxiety they may be feeling. Some dentists will even let parents bring something that provides comfort, like a blanket or stuffed animal, into the treatment room.
Read Stories Or Play Games Involving Dentist Visits
Stories and games can help prepare your child for what to expect during a dental visit. They also can familiarize them with people they may meet at their dentist’s office. It’s important to make these stories as positive as possible. When describing the examination process and the instruments that will be used, be sure to use kid-friendly language that’s easy to understand and follow.
When it comes to playing games, there are a variety of options that you can choose from. One option is to create some puzzles that can be put together to reveal a picture of a toothbrush or a dental chair. You can also create cards with pictures on them that depict the tools used at the dentist’s, along with their names.
As your kids get older, you can start telling them about your own experiences going to the dental office. This will help them feel more comfortable with the idea of a visit to the dentist. It will also give them an idea of the kinds of things that can happen during the appointment.
Lead By Example
It’s also important to remember that you are a role model for your children. If they see you rush into the dentist’s office without showing any anxiety, they are more likely to expect the same experience for themselves. Be sure to practice good oral hygiene routines in front of your children so that they get used to seeing you do it every day.
It’s also a good idea to start monitoring your child’s teeth early on so that you can spot any potential issues as soon as they emerge. This allows you to take pre-emptive measures to protect your teeth from decay and other oral health problems. Try to maintain regular appointments with your child’s dentist so that they can receive a thorough checkup every six months. This allows them to maintain excellent overall dental health and avoid the need for major procedures in the future.
If you’d like to learn more, then contact our dental office at (503) 581-2446 today. We’d be happy to help answer any questions that you may have.