Dentist visits can be a source of anxiety and fear especailly for children. Some kids become so scared they may refuse to cooperate.
Dental anxiety in children may be alleviated by understanding why they may be afraid. To cite a few:
- Fear of an unfamiliar environment
- A sense of helplessness or a lack of control
- Noises, smells and other sensations which may bother the child.
- Being apprehensive about going to the dentist because of a previous negative dental experience
- Hearing about other people’s unpleasant dental experiences.
Try these strategies to help children and teenagers overcome their anxiety of the dentist:
Tell a story about a good experience you’ve had at the dentist.
Most children are nervous of the dentists because of tales they’ve heard from family members and friends. By recounting a positive experience you had at the dentist, you may change the tone of the conversation.
Dental cleaning and checkup appointments that went off without a hitch may be an example. Tell the tale in a style that’s easy for children to understand. To avoid frightening your child, attempt to omit any facts regarding a previous negative dental experience.
Read a book or watch a movie about going to the dentist
A trip to the dentist has been featured in many books and the television series of SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Arthur, and Peppa Pig. In several of these episodes, the character is worried about going to the dentist before realizing that it isn’t as scary as they thought. We hope the same holds true for your kids as well!
Child friendly language
A dentist may often make routine treatments more kid-friendly by simply altering the language used. The pediatric dentist may, for example, call it a “slurpy straw” rather than a suction instrument. A “squirt gun” may be attached to the “water sprayer”. The pediatric dentist will also use words such as “sleepy medicine” or “tingle” rather than “shot” or “pinch”. This helps to keep kids calm and it may even help children relax and enjoy their treatment, making it more pleasant for everyone involved.
Praise or a reward for excellent conduct in the dentist’s chair might help your kid look forward to future appointments and remind them how much you appreciate their efforts.
Bring Them with You to Your Appointments.
Having you as a role model implies that if you can do it, your kids can, too. If you’re due for a dental checkup, bring your child along so they can see precisely what the dentist is up to. They notice how welcoming everybody is and how nothing alarming is taking place throughout the session.
If you have anxiety over dental checkups this approach should be avoided. It is possible for your kid to pick up with your bad energy, which might exacerbate their anxiety for future dental visits. It’s advisable to keep your youngster at home if you have dental anxiety or phobias of your own.
Office tour and playing “dentist” at home.
Your children will feel much more at ease at the doctor’s office if they are already acquainted with the surroundings. Bring them in ahead of time and practice at home so they’ll be prepared for the big day.
Place your children on a chair and pretending to be the dentist. Using a mirror and then either your hand or even some utensils to mimic dental instruments, demonstrate how their tooth will be examined. You may also encourage your child to play “dentsit” with their stuffed animals or dolls.
Encourage your child’s self-esteem by complimenting him or her on how white and healthy their teeth seem.
Play Soothing music or watch a movie on the overhead TVs and iPads.
Sometimes the sounds from instruments during a dentist appointment might be unsettling for children. Soothing music or a favorite movie may be good for distracting your child and creating a more child-friendly setting.
Consider playing relaxing music throughout the visit. You may also have success with playing their favorite tunes, such as songs from their best movies. Try to keep children comfortable and occupied with songs that they too are fascinated in or feel comfort in.
Schedule Regular Dental Checkups.
Regular dental visits might help children who suffer from dental anxiety become more comfortable over time. Be sure to keep up with a six-month dental exam and cleaning schedule unless directed more frequently by your child’s dentist. This will allow the child to become more comfortable with the dentist, his or her staff, and their office environment. A child’s confidence in going to the dentist is enhanced if the dentist’s office is one they are acquainted with.
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
Nitrous oxide anxiolysis or laughing gas is commonly prescribed by your child’s pediatric dentist in order to assist him or her during a dental procedure. A somewhat nervous child may be calmed by using nitrous oxide. As an added bonus, it possesses analgesic characteristics that may help ease the child’s discomfort. A youngster with a shorter attention span may benefit from using nitrous oxide to help the appointment seem to go quicker. It has a wide margin of safety at your dentist’s office if you have proper scavenger systems and the capacity to modify the amount of oxygen/Nitrous oxide.
Your child’s dentist may recommend dental treatment under general anesthesia to ensure your child’s safety and comfort during dental procedures. There are times when a child may need general anesthesia, such as when the child’s young age, scope of treatment needed, dental anxiety and lack of cooperation, or special health care needs do not allow for adequate cooperation for receiving treatment in the dental chair. Your child’s pediatric dentist will assess your child’s needs along with these other factors to determine with you if this is an option for your child.
Most importantly, please let your dentist know if your child is feeling nervous so they can help make your child’s visit a positive one.