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Is your child scared or nervous to go to the dentist? Do you cringe at the idea of taking your child to their appointment because you know it will be difficult for them? Well, worry no more! At our office, we work with children on a daily basis and have found many tips and tricks to help our little patients through a dental appointment. Below are some of the ways we have used in our office to help calm our pediatric patients and a few suggestions you can use to help your child before their appointment.
Jackson Family Dentistry sees a common theme shared between many of our patients both young and old and that is a genuine fear of the dentist. While many of our adult patients are able to manage this fear, a scared child is much harder to work on. In order to ease the child and make them more relaxed, there are several ways parents or their guardians can help. Starting children at a young age is an easy way to relax your child. Children develop fear as they become older and the sooner they visit the dentist the better. We have seen success with our pediatric patients if they come into our office for a tour, before making their first. Showing them the various instruments the dentist will use and letting them sit in the exam chair all have a positive effect on them.
If it is an older child who is scared, talking with them to find the root of their fear is much easier. Perhaps a classmate shared a scary experience or your child watched something disturbing about dentistry on television. When bringing up the topic, choose a quiet time when you're not distracted so you can give your full attention. Also, don't make light of their dental fear; let them know you understand. You could also share a fear of yours to show you've been in that situation too. This is a great way to build trust with your child and have them open up to you. Our office’s website even has a section devoted to children. It contains frequent questions and topics to discuss with your child.
Parents should also steer clear of “trigger” words before and during their child’s exam. Words such as “it won’t hurt” will actually have a negative impact on the child’s visit. The child might only hear the word “hurt” and will not understand why he shouldn’t be scared. Having a parent or older sibling with the child can help ease their nerves as well, however, try to avoid sitting in the chair with them. Holding a child will give them a sense of security but they might wonder why they need to feel safe for something that is not supposed to be scary. This will lead them to become more nervous and will make the appointment much harder on them. When possible, try to limit your interaction with the dental staff. Allowing your child to freely talk with the dentist and staff during the exam will make them feel more invested in their oral health.
Finally, finding the right dentist for your child is very important. You want to find an office that is comforting and fun for your child. Finding a dentist that can communicate with both you and your child will help your child with his anxiety. An office that tries to help the child overcome his fear will make their subsequent visits much more enjoyable. Some offices choose to only work with children under sedation, however, our office feels this will not help the child feel safe with the dentist and may continue to have anxiety into adulthood. This is why Jackson Family Dentistry will rarely use more than a local anesthetic on our pediatric patients because we want to cure their anxiety rather than just mask it.
Our goal is to make everyone, especially our little ones, feel safe and anxiety-free while at the dentist. Through educating our patients we have been able to help so many children feel more comfortable going to the dentist. If your child has dental anxiety please give us a call, you and your child will be glad you did.