4 Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Dental Anxiety

4 Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Dental Anxiety
Posted on 12/20/2021
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Sometimes getting your child to attend a dental appointment is not easy. Some children find the idea of going to the dentist an unpleasant thought. The child may become fearful or dread the thought of going to an appointment. These feelings may be caused by dental anxiety. Fortunately, there are a few ways to address this issue.

1. Learn to Control Your Own Anxiety

Dental anxiety is stress or fear associated with going to the dentist and dental procedures. Being anxious about dental appointments is more common than many people think. An estimated 9-20 percent of people in America avoid going to dentists because of dental anxiety. 

Many different factors cause dental anxiety. Some of the most common factors include:

  • Previous traumatic dental experiences
  • Previous trauma
  • Generalized anxiety
  • Trust issues
  • Claustrophobia
  • Fear of needles
  • Fear of dental noises

If you suffer from dental anxiety, your child will often absorb or feed off of your fears or concerns. Children learn how to behave by watching their parents. If you learn to control or manage your anxiety, you can keep your child from having similar fears or help your child overcome fears they may already have.

Find a dentist who is sympathetic to your fears. These dentists will have processes and procedures to help you work through any fears or anxiety you may have.

Avoid words like hurt or pain when you talk about your dental visits or why you don’t want to go to a dentist around your children. Help your child understand that dental personnel are superheroes who help take care of their teeth.

2. Read Your Child Books About Positive Dental Experiences

There are numerous children's books on the market that talk about going to the dentist. You can find these types of books on Kindle, at your local library, or available for purchase at your local big box stores. 

Make going-to-the-dentist books a part of your child’s reading repertoire at an early age. Engage your child's imagination and get your child to do the things the child in the book is doing.

For example, you might have your child sit in a recliner and lay back. Encourage them to open their mouth while you pretend to be the dentist. Take the time to peer into your child's mouth and count their teeth. These types of going-to-the-dentist stories and playacting provide your child with positive, relatable experiences.

3. Explore What Triggers Their Fears

While some children have generalized dental anxieties, fears about other things can also create anxiety. Another way to address your child's dental concerns is to explore their associated fears or concerns. Some fears or concerns that may cause your child's dental anxiety may include:

  • Fear of needles
  • Fear of pain
  • Fear of being trapped in the chair
  • Fear of you leaving them there
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of the dental personnel

Each of these fears can be addressed and overcome with your reassurance and by engaging with a competent pediatric dentist. 

4. Make Your Child Comfortable

Allow your child to take small things with them to make them more comfortable during their dental procedure. Your child's comfort items will vary depending on their age. Small manipulatives, stuffed animals, or even earbuds with favorite music or stories may help your child relax and be more comfortable during their appointment.

Treasured Smiles Pediatric Dentistry understands dental anxiety. As a pediatric dental practice, we take many steps to help your child be comfortable with their dental experiences. Give us a call today to schedule your child's dental visit, and we will help you work through any dental anxieties your child may have.