If you have ever experienced a touch of anxiety, you know that it’s never fun. Now, imagine being a small child in an unfamiliar environment and feeling like you’re about to have something really scary happen to you.
Sounds horrifying, doesn’t it?
Dental anxiety is quite common in children and it’s something that we take very seriously here at Dental Town. At our offices, if your child is suffering from anxiety they won’t be treated like a “problem” or “inconvenience” (far from it).
We make sure to pay special attention to children who show signs of dental anxiety so we can ensure they get through their appointment and form a positive opinion regarding dentists as a whole (which will lead to consistent dental visits and better oral health for the rest of their life).
One question we often hear from parents is, “I know my child will likely have anxiety at their dental appointment. What can I do to minimize the anxiety so that my child has a positive experience?”
When asked that question, we usually give these 5 tips….
1 Make Sure Your Child is Informed
One mistake many parents make (even though they have good intentions) is completely shielding their child from what is going to happen during their appointment. While this may seem like a good idea on the surface, it actually increases anxiety for many children because they go into their appointment with no idea of what will happen next.
We’re not saying that you need to explain anything scary to them, but it may be a good idea to give them a general idea of what to expect (in non-scary terms that they will understand).
For example, let’s say that your child has a Batman toothbrush because Batman is good at keeping the bad germs out of your mouth.
You could tell your child that the dentist is a friend of Batman and that he helps Batman keep your teeth clean. Let them know that all they will need to do is sit in a chair, be brave, and talk to Batman’s friend (the dentist or dental hygienist) to get through the appointment.
2 Bring Your Child to our Office Prior to Their Appointment
We know life is busy. However, one thing we encourage moms and dads to do is to stop by our practice before your child’s appointment so they can “get a feel” for the office.
Your child will be able to see our kid-friendly office, meet our team, and have a better understanding of what to expect. By doing this, you’re giving them a good experience they can then associate with going to the dentist.
This isn’t something that takes a long time! You can literally “pop your head in the door” for 5 minutes, meet a few people, and create a much better frame of reference for your child when they think about going to the dentist.
3 Don’t be Afraid to Bribe Your Child
We know your job as a parent is to raise your children so they become healthy, productive, loving adults. While we’re not saying you should always bribe your child, every now and then rewarding them for good behavior isn’t a bad idea, in our opinion.
Whether it’s a treat such as ice cream, a token (that can be redeemed for a toy), or something else along those lines, rewarding your child for behaving like a brave boy or girl can help them get through their appointment with minimal anxiety.
The best part? Once they realize they can do it, in many cases their anxiety will lessen over time!
4 Tell Them Why Visiting the Dentist is Important
Kids are curious little creatures, aren’t they?
As an adult, don’t you like knowing why you need to do something? Kids are the same way! We’ve found that many times when parents tell a child they have to go to a dental appointment (but don’t really explain why), it can leave the child confused, which can lead to heightened anxiety.
Our solution is to thoroughly explain to your child why going to the dentist is important and why they have to go every six months if they want to keep their teeth healthy. Not only is it great for them to acquire this knowledge from their parents, but it puts them in a position to better understand why they need to go to the dentist.
5 Choose a Dental Office that is Kid Friendly
This is an important one. Many general or family dental offices are really set up to cater to adults and showcase more of a “professional” environment. Sure, they may have a few toys and kid’s books in the corner, but they don’t really cater to kids.
At Dental Town, all of our offices were built with a “kids first” mentality. We want all of our young patients to feel like they are right at home; more of a playroom feel than a medical office feel!
A child’s environment can significantly impact their anxiety, and at Dental Town, our environment is conducive to distracting kids and allowing them to have a good time from the moment they walk in. Sometimes distraction is the best cure for anxiety!
If your child struggles with dental anxiety, give us a call!
We hope these tips can help you better prepare your child for their next dental visit. These certainly aren’t “miracle cures” and we can’t guarantee that they will work, but they are worth trying as they could ease your child’s fears about visiting the dentist.
If you’re in the Alpharetta, Canton, Cumming, or Johns Creek areas north of Atlanta and have a child who struggles with dental anxiety, give our pediatric dentists a call to schedule your child’s appointment.
You’ll love our team of caring, compassionate dental professionals who are exceptional at treating children with dental anxiety, so give our office nearest you a call today.