Does your child have dental anxiety?
Kids don’t have to be afraid of going to the dentist, and you can look forward to taking them to the dentist, too! At We Make Kids Smile, we want kids to enjoy their visits and to start healthy oral hygiene habits from the beginning so they will have bright healthy smiles throughout their lives. We encourage questions from parents and kids and we want to help you alleviate your kid’s dental anxiety. Call us today to schedule an appointment for a “happy” visit or for a dental cleaning. And use these tips to calm your child’s anxiety about the dentist and make a dental visit a fun experience!
Start a good relationship with a dentist early.
The best way to make sure that your child isn’t afraid of the dentist as they get older is to start off getting dental care as soon as they have teeth. Schedule an appointment for your child when they turn one, or bring them in six months after their first tooth erupts. We would love to set up an appointment for them where they can meet the dentist and get used to the office so that they won’t be afraid of future dental appointments.
Schedule a “happy” visit before starting dental care.
A “happy” visit is the perfect way to make your kid comfortable with professional dental care. At a “happy” visit your child won’t have any dental work done. They will meet the dentist and have a chance to ask any questions they have about dental care. A hygienist will show them a treatment room and have them sit in the treatment chair. Then the hygienist will show them the equipment used during a dental cleaning and a dental exam so that they won’t be afraid of any of the dental tools that are used to keep their teeth healthy. The “happy” appointment is a great way to make sure that your child is comfortable at the dentist’s office before they even get any dental care.
Talk to your child about what will happen at the dentist.
Many kids are anxious about seeing the dentist just because they don’t know what will happen. Before the dental appointment, it will help calm your child’s anxiety if you explain what the dentist is going to do and why they need to have this service done – to keep their teeth strong and healthy. Kids usually are pretty understanding about things if you simply explain to them why something is necessary.
Encourage them to ask questions.
When talking to your child about their dentist appointment, ask them if they have any questions about their teeth or about dental care. Suggest that they write down all their questions, or you can write them down for them, and they can ask the dentist their questions at their appointment or at a “happy” visit. When kids are able to ask questions and feel like they are participating in their own health care it’s very empowering for them.
Let them listen to calming music.
You can make a playlist of calming music that your child loves and put it on your phone, or use an old phone that uses wi-fi to act as a music player and load it with kid-friendly music. Bring earbuds and your child can listen to calming music all the way through their appointment if that helps them be less anxious.
Take them for a special treat after the appointment.
Make a visit to the dentist special by taking them for a special treat afterward. You could take them to their favorite park to play, to the pool for a swim, or even on a pony ride or to the petting zoo. Whatever activity you choose, make it something really special so they will look forward to seeing the dentist and getting their special treat.
Read books about good oral hygiene and dental care.
Reading to kids helps them learn about their world and helps them process information. If you read them stories about dental care or about kids going to the dentist they will not be as anxious about going to the dentist because it will seem familiar to them.
Bring a comfort item to the appointment.
You can always bring a stuffed toy, blanket, or any comfort object that your child is really attached to when your child comes for a dental appointment.
Set a good example.
Kids mimic their parents. If your child sees you happy and relaxed while getting your teeth cleaned they will learn to be happy and relaxed at the dentist also. Next time you have your teeth cleaned, bring your child and have them sit in the treatment room with you so they can see what is involved in a dental cleaning. They will also see that it’s not a big deal when you stay relaxed throughout the cleaning process.
Try sedation dentistry.
All kids are different, and some truly find it upsetting to get dental care. Neurodivergent or special needs kids may find noises or sensations associated with dental care upsetting. We understand that, and we can work with your child’s needs. If your child has anxiety about dental work and you can’t seem to find a way to alleviate it then sedation dentistry may be a good option. It’s very common.
There are between 100,000-250,000 pediatric dentistry sedations every year. And there are many Prince Frederick pediatric dentists that offer sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry is safe, quick, and makes it easier for children with anxiety or special needs to get the dental care they need.