Help Ease Your Child’s Dental Anxiety

on November 20, 2013

Dental Anxiety in KidsDo you find getting your child to go to the dentist a difficult task? Dental offices can be ascary place for kids, but with some help from your friendly Evanston dentists, it doesn’t have to be. There are some simple steps you can take to help ease your child’s dental anxiety.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

The best thing you can do to help ease your child’s fears is talk to them about their visit. Talk to them about the visit one day before to get them use to the idea. Let them know that they are going to see the dentist who will look at their teeth and make sure their smile is healthy and clean. Keep the talk light and friendly. Do not use words like: needles, shots, pain, or hurt; even in a positive way – such as, “It won’t hurt at all!” or “The shot won’t be any worse than a flu shot.” These words may start your child worrying. It is also best to avoid offering a treat, “if they’re good.” This may have them worrying about why they wouldn’t be good in the first place.

Make it Friendly

We work hard to make our Evanston dental office a friendly and welcoming place for patients of all ages. However, if your dental office is more sterile and adult oriented, look around for a pediatric dentist that is close by, (or visit our office if you are in Evanston!) We have books and activities for kids to do while they’re waiting and a treasure chest for after their visit. We encourage parents to come back to the rooms with their kids, and with younger kids we even have them sit in their parent’s lap for the cleaning. If your child is really worried, schedule a meet and greet or a tour of the office for your child and the dental team so that your child will feel more comfortable with the people and the office.

If you have dental anxiety as well, try not to let your child see this as it will just add to their anxiety. If this is the case, schedule a meet and greet for yourself to make sure you are comfortable at the office before you bring your child.

Schedule Smart

For younger children, make sure to avoid scheduling appointments around nap time or meal times when they may be cranky. Morning appointments are best as your child is well rested and ready for exciting adventures.

For older children, try to schedule at times that don’t conflict with other activities so that they don’t feel rushed or stressed while they are at the dental office. Additionally, if you know your child has dental anxiety, schedule at a time that you will know that you can be with them. Even if they don’t want you back in the exam room, knowing that you are present may help ease their fears.

Schedule a trip to the ice cream store or to the toy store after the visit to give your child something to look forward to during the appointment. As we said earlier, don’t use this trip as a reward for being good. Instead think of it as a distraction for your child – something to keep their mind busy while they are visiting with the dentist.

Teach Good Hygiene Habits at Home

The best way for you to influence your child’s oral health is to start their dental routines early. This allows them to learn good oral hygiene from an early age. It also allows dental appointments to be smooth and pain free. Provide a good example of good oral hygiene and brush your teeth with your children. You can start them brushing at a very early age by using a soft cloth to brush their gums before their teeth come in. Once their teeth come in, use a child’s brush and non-fluoride toothpaste until they understand that they need to spit the toothpaste out and not to swallow it.

If you wait until there is decay or an emergency to take your child to the dentist, then they will associate pain with the visit. This is often where children’s fear of the dentist begins.

These tricks may help make your dental visits easier for you and your child. Remember that preventative care is the best method to keep your child’s smile healthy and clean. Make sure you schedule regular dental visits for your child. Work with your dentist to help your child overcome their dental anxiety and keep them smiling for years to come. If you have more tips please feel free to share them with us.

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