Dental anxiety is a very common condition both in adults and children. People with dental anxiety have exaggerated worries or unfounded fears regarding meeting a dentist and receiving dental care. Dental anxiety is one of the major reasons why parents often hesitate to bring their children to the dentist’s regularly. It is very important to take good care of baby’s teeth as unhealthy baby teeth can lead to unhealthy adult teeth. Since oral health has been found to affect heart and lungs, dental anxiety can have serious implications. Fortunately, with a little care and effort from both parents and dentists, dental anxiety in children can be managed.
What can you do?
Very often parents with dental anxiety inadvertently pass on their fears to the children through their facial expressions and negative body language. Making an effort to be pleasant while discussing a dental appointment and when bringing the child to the dentist will help create a positive feeling in the child about dental care.
Let the child understand about the need for dental care. There are plenty of books and videos available online giving out positive messages about dental care including regular visits to the dentist. You can talk to your child about the need for dental hygiene. Clear information helps combat the child’s fears and worries.
Encourage your child to talk to you about any concerns he or she might have. Children often receive fictitious information from media and friends. Giving them a chance to share their worries with you will give you the opportunity to let them know what is true and what are figments and fairy tales.
It is also important to make sure that you choose the right dentist for your child. Find a dentist who is sensitive to the fears of the patients. Make sure that you are comfortable with the environment and the services provided are sufficient for your needs. If you have faith in your dentist, your positivity will influence your child’s attitude towards his or her dental appointments.
It is a good idea to bring the child to one of your appointments before the child’s first dentist appointment. This will give you an opportunity to show your child that it is not a frightening experience. The child will learn from your behaviour at the dentist’s. Make sure you send the right signals to the child.
Things to consider before you accept the time of appointment. Make sure your child is not hungry, sleepy or tired when he or she meets the dentist. Physical discomfort can aggravate the mental distress your child experience and it causes him or her to connect the environment with negative feelings.
Communicating with the dentist will help children feel comfortable. Let them know that the dentist is there to listen to their dental difficulties and help them get better. Encourage them to talk to their dentist and ask any questions they may have about what is going to be done for them.
What can we do?
A good dentist will give importance to building rapport with the patients. This will help the child understand that if he or she faces any difficulty during the dental procedures, he or she can always communicate that to the dentist. Dentists can agree on signals such as raising a hand if it hurts, so that the patient will feel safe and in control of the situation.
Dentists can help reduce anxiety in children by giving them clear explanations and informing them on the procedures they are about to carry out. They can also try to distract the child’s thoughts away from the present environment by having a chat on a pleasant topic before the procedure begins. Children may also be allowed to keep a favourite toy with them while receiving treatment. Dentists can also use small rewards such as stickers and picture cards for positive behaviour.
Melbourne dentists pride in our skills in treating patients with dental anxiety and dental phobia. Many dentists in Melbourne have specialist dental therapists who help the children view their experiences at the dentist’s in a positive light. Many clinics also provide sedation dentistry, pre-treatment sedation and relaxation music to help those with extreme fears to the extent of being a phobia. Children with dental anxiety are often offered sedation dentistry to avoid their anxiety developing into a phobia. With a variety of solutions available to combat dental anxiety, there is no reason why it should stop your child from maintaining his or her oral health.