For many people, going to the dentist isn’t their favorite activity. But for some, especially children, feelings towards a dental appointment extend past dislike.
In simple terms, dental anxiety (also known as dentophobia) is the fear of receiving or even seeking dental care. Dental fear and anxiety often begin at an early age and can stem from many things:
- Fear of potential pain
- A sense of loss of control or feeling trapped in the dentist’s chair
- Embarrassment of noticeable or severe dental issues
- Trauma from previous negative experiences at the dentist’s office
It’s essential to address dentophobia as quickly as possible or attempt to prevent it altogether to avoid more serious issues later in life. Many people who suffer from dental anxiety will avoid routine care or refuse to undergo certain necessary procedures, which can be detrimental to their oral health.
Fortunately, there are ways to help make going to the dentist an easy, stress-free experience for your child.
1. Begin their dental care journey at a young age.
You can start taking your child to the dentist once their first teeth come in. If dental checkups are part of a familiar routine that has been in place from early in their life, they are less likely to experience dental anxiety.
2. Keep them in the loop about scheduled dental visits.
Giving your child a heads-up about their dentist appointment gives them time to prepare and ask questions. Make sure to take the time to hear and answer all their questions. Knowing what to expect from their appointment can make the experience less scary for them.
3. Choose a dentist who creates a positive experience for your child.
Thoroughly research dentists in your area and, if possible, find reviews from past or current patients. There might be a trial-and-error process in finding a dentist that your child likes and trusts. One way to make this process quicker and easier is by finding a pediatric dentist who specializes in children’s oral care rather than a general dentist, as we have at our Thunderbird Kid’s Dentistry & Orthodontics practice.
4. Provide your child with tools for managing dental anxiety.
If your child is nervous about their upcoming appointment or has had dental anxiety in the past, teach them ways to manage their anxiety. Options that work well for children include breathing exercises or the 3-3-3 exercise (having them focus on three things they can see, three things they can hear, and three body parts they can move). Toys like fidget spinners can also help keep their mind occupied during a stressful situation.
5. Stay with your child during the entire dentist visit.
Staying in the room with your child during the exam, cleaning, or procedure can offer them a sense of familiarity and comfort. If they need extra support, you can hold their hand or talk to them while the dentist is working.
Is it time to locate the best dentist for your child’s needs?
Thunderbird Kid’s Dentistry & Orthodontics is here to support your child in their dental care journey. We’re proud to have a team of pediatric dental experts who can make visiting the dentist a positive experience for your child. Visit our website to book an appointment today.