Dental anxiety is a common fear that prevents many people from receiving the dental care they need. According to a survey, 70% of respondents reported experiencing some amount of anxiety at the dentist's office. Dental anxiety prevents people from getting the dental care they need, which can put them at risk for decay and gum disease. There are some things you can do to help your child feel more comfortable during their dental appointment.
Start early: Early dental visits for kids can be important for several reasons.
By visiting the dentist when kids are young, they are more likely to grow up with a healthy smile that they maintain throughout their life.
When your child gets their very first tooth, it's recommended to take them to see a dentist for a cleaning and checkup. This way, the dentist can monitor their teeth as they grow and will be able to spot any issues that may arise before they occur.
Once a child has all their baby teeth in, then they can transition to regular pediatric checkups every six months. These routine visits can help catch any problems that need to be addressed before they become serious. Additionally, these biannual visits are also a great time for children to go in and have a professional cleaning done from the comfort of their own homes.
In addition to catching problems and ensuring that children always have good oral health, routine visits are also a great opportunity for parents to ask questions and gain better insight into how to maintain their children's teeth and gums at home.
Regular visits to the dentist can also help your child start to develop positive associations with going to the dentist. This will help ensure that they don't have any negative experiences in the future, which could potentially lead to dental anxiety.
Take a calming item
Start early! It is much easier to teach good habits at a young age, and many children will have an easier time adjusting to regular hygiene appointments if those begin at an early age. Starting the process young can also help keep your child's teeth healthy and avoid problems down the road. Take comforting items such as stuffed animals, blankets, pacifiers, etc., that can help ease a child's anxiety about visiting the dentist.
Read stories or play games
Reading books or playing children's games that involve visits to the dentist can help reduce anxiety. Stories about going to the dentist help expose children to the concept in a positive way. The more comfortable kids are with the idea of visiting the dentist, the less anxious they will likely be when they visit for the first time. For younger kids, read stories about doctor checkups and tooth brushing. Older kids can read books with titles like "My First Dentist Appointment" that focus on being excited about seeing the dentist. You can also play games like Operation or My Little Ponies that involve going to the dentist for a checkup and cleaning.
Games allow kids to act out the steps in a process they are unfamiliar with, which can help ease their nerves for the real thing. Playing these games regularly will help teach your child what to expect during their next dentist appointment.