Dental anxiety is a fear of the dentist or dental procedures. It can be mild or severe, and children can experience it at different levels. Dental anxiety is best prevented from an early age because a child's fear can worsen as he gets older.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children begin visiting the dentist's office as soon as their first teeth erupt – usually around age one. Starting early will allow your child to get comfortable with their dentist and dental office staff. It will also help them learn how to practice proper hygiene at home. Your child's first visit to the dentist should just be a quick, painless cleanup of their gums. During these early appointments, your dentist will also evaluate the development of your child's teeth and jaw.
Once you've been to a pediatric dentist a few times and have built a trusting relationship with them, you can take your kids to your own dental appointments. Remember that your children will model your actions. If you express fears about going to the dentist, your child is likely to adopt the same feelings. Instead, plant the seed that seeing the dentist is a healthy habit that you need to follow. As the kids get older, they may start to ask questions about why they need to go to the dentist. Discuss the importance of taking care of your teeth to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Help them understand that once they lose their permanent teeth, they won't be able to get them replaced. Use positive language when talking about dental health to help encourage your kids to take care of their teeth from a young age.
Take a comforting item to the dentist's appointment
A soft blanket, stuffed animal, toy, etc., can make a dental visit more comfortable for kids. Bringing along a familiar object can help calm their fears and ease any anxiety they may be feeling before and during their visit. It can also help to take their mind off of the treatment process so they can relax during the procedure. Let your child choose their favorite comfort item and take it with them to their appointment so they feel more at ease right away.
If your dentist is suggesting a filling for your child's cavity, you could also bring along a fun activity book or a handheld game to play while they wait. This will work to soothe them and keep them distracted from the treatment process. You can also read books or games to them to make them feel more comfortable. If they like cartoons, you could even watch a few episodes together.
Read stories or play games involving dentist visits
Stories and games can help children understand that going to the dentist is not a scary or painful experience. Reading books about dentists or having games that deal with visiting a dentist can prepare your child for a checkup better than not talking about it at all. If a child is uneasy about seeing the dentist, even if they are young, they will develop anxiety towards all doctors. This anxiety can be harmful to their health down the line if they don't get regular checkups and cleanings.
If your child has an upcoming appointment with the dentist, ask them questions and try to get them to talk about what they can expect to happen at the visit. Once they know what to expect, they will be less fearful about the procedure.
Teach kids the Iimportance of great oral health
One of the most important things you can do for your child is to teach them about oral health and how important it is in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They may not enjoy brushing their teeth now, but you want them to understand the importance of great oral health for the future and how to practice it at home.
You can start educating them at an early age and make it fun by using games and activities to teach your children about the role oral health plays in overall health. It can also help to bring in books to read to them that talk about why taking care of your teeth is important and why they need to continue visiting the dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
This can also help you lead by example because your child is more likely to take care of their oral health if they see you doing the same.
Lead by example
Children learn by example; this is an incredibly true statement when it comes to oral health habits. It is incredibly important as a parent to practice good oral hygiene and to help your child understand why this is so vital. This helps them to learn the importance of taking care of their teeth so they are less likely to develop unhealthy habits. Show your children how to brush their teeth properly and how to help them floss at home. This will go a long way in helping them to understand the importance of dental care without instilling any fear.
Another important thing to remember is to never share your own fears about going to the dentist with your kids. If you make a big deal out of visiting your dentist, then your child will do the same when they get older. Instead, explain why you go every six months and show your kids that you have no fear of the dentist yourself! This will show them that it can be normal and nothing to be afraid of.
To learn more, schedule an appointment to meet with the best dentist in Albuquerque, NM 87111, today!