Are you afraid/anxious/nervous/uncomfortable about going to the dentist? Well, guess what? So are millions of other people around the world. Often times, our fears stem from a deep-rooted, often illogical idea of what an experience could be like. Being scared of the dentist is not something new and if you talk to several kids, you’ll find out that the anxiety starts at a pretty young age. For kids, feeling nervous is usually associated with a new experience, trying something out for the first time. But did you also know that you, the parent, have a lot to do with the fears your child encounters?
The International Journal of Pediatric Dentistry once published a study that identified the source of dental phobia in children as stemming from an adult figure (usually dad, ironically enough). You can read more about that in my previous blog, “Understanding Dental Phobia,” but for now, I’d like to look at what you can actually do to help your kids, and maybe yourself, with overcoming their fear of the dentist. Fox News recently published an article detailing 9 steps you can take to help your kids overcome their dental phobia, or better yet, not develop one at all. Here’s how you can help:
- Start an oral hygiene routine at a young age. You can start brushing before your child even has teeth. Use a baby toothbrush, your finger, or a wet washcloth and clean and massage the gums after each feeding.
- Visit the dentist around your child’s first birthday. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental visit when the first tooth erupts. Early dental visits get your child comfortable with your dentist and can eliminate anxiety down the road.
- Discuss what happens at the dentist with your child before visiting. There are even several children’s books available as a resource. If they know what to expect, chances are their fears will subside.
- Play “dentist” with your kids, pretending to exam and clean their teeth at home. While this seems pretty silly, it can be a fun and helpful way to prepare for the visit.
- Make the appointment fun. Allow your child to bring a favorite book or toy, creating a sense of comfort and familiarity.
- Be positive. Even if you’re not a huge fan of going to the dentist, your child doesn’t need to know that! Talk about all of the good that comes from having great oral health.
- Visit the office before the appointment. Again, this helps your child feel more comfortable for their appointment by getting to see the staff and the setting, realizing there’s nothing to be afraid of.
- See a pediatric dentist. These specialists are trained in working with kids and know how to ease their fears. They also often use smaller instruments, have more kid-friendly offices, and provide videos or toys to make it a more positive experience.
- If you suffer from dental phobia yourself and don’t think you’re able to mask it in front of your kids, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Have another family member or close friend handle the appointment.
Children aren’t the only individuals who are anxious about the dentist. Millions of adult Americans experience a variety of phobia symptoms when visiting their dental office. The professionals at Miami Dental Sedation Spa are highly trained and experienced, offering a variety of options to help make your dental visit as calming and relaxing as possible. Contact our office today and find out how we can help you overcome your dental phobia.