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 4 Ways to Conquer Child’s Fear of the DentistDental Fear - Sutton Children's Dentistry

Dental fear is a common problem in pediatric dentistry. Let’s face it, even as adults, we sometimes experience anxiety before a dental appointment. Pediatric dentists specialize in the treatment of dental care specifically for children.

Start Early

There are several reasons why the American Dental Association (ADA) advises parents to schedule a dental appointment for their child as soon as the first tooth appears or before the first birthday. An early dental visit will help your baby or child become familiar with their pediatric dentist, the office surroundings and the dental staff, can set the stage for a pleasant dental future.

Just how many parents have the option to bring their child to a pediatrician for medical care, there are pediatric dentists who specialize in treating children. Due to their extensive studies and knowledge of behavioral guidance, a pediatric dentist is a good choice for children with special needs, for those who require extensive dental treatment or for children who have been fearful in a general dentist office.

Dental Fear Factors

A child’s fear of the dentist can come in many forms. The fear may be based on his or her general outlook toward anxiety, or other personal things relative to the child. Dental fear is a product of similar fears in family members.

Factors that may lead to dental fear:

-Fear of pain or history of painful experience.

-Sight or feel of dental instruments.

-Unappealing setting

-Inadequate preparation of dental visit.

-Avoidance

-Emotions or concern of possible threats.

-Socioeconomic factors.

4 Tips to Conquer Child’s Fear of the Dentist:

Be a Good Role Model: There are many ways to be a good role model for your child while going to the dentist. One way, take your child with you to the dentist for a general routine cleaning. Let them watch the entire process, to assure that it will be okay and talk with your child about what the dentist is doing. Another way to be a great dental role model is by practicing good oral hygiene, brushing and flossing twice a day. This will help engage your child to practice the same habits.

Read Books about the Dentist: Sitting down and engaging with your child, reading stories about the dentist prior to the visit may put your child’s mind at ease. Reading stories usually will outline what to expect and what happens at the dentist office, so the child will be more prepared. If they see their favorite character getting their teeth cleaned, they will see that visiting the dentist is not so bad!

Positive Reinforcement: Many children do not understand that going to the dentist has its own long term rewards. As a parent, you may need to utilize other positive rewards. Most pediatric dentist offices pass out stickers and prizes at the end of each visit. Encourage your child to sit nicely while getting their teeth cleaned and how they will receive a cool toy at the end of the visit. Alternately, offer to take your child out to a movie, go bowling, or to the toy store. Link the idea of visiting the dentist with a fun activity to make future visits much easier and accomable.

Role Play: Sometimes acting out a situation can help alleviate a child’s fear when they are in the situation. Playing “dentist office”with your children may help prepare them for the visit when they can see and act out what will happen.

Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is used to provide a relaxing and anxiety-free experience for some young children and adults receiving dental treatment. Sedation techniques enable individuals who are fearful of the dentist, so they may receive the dental care they need. Sedation dentistry is a process used to establish a relaxed, easy, and calm state with use of sedatives.

At Sutton Children’s Dentistry and Orthodontics, we understand some children who are very young may have a high level of anxiety that sometimes may interfere with the cooperation necessary for the dentist to perform treatment may require some level of sedation.  There are many safe and effective drugs available that can help relax your child and promote a good environment for optimal and safe treatment.

If you are considering sedation dentistry for your child, contact your pediatric dentists at Sutton Children’s Dentistry for more information and to answer any questions or concerns you may have.