Dental fear is a very real fear, and unfortunately is one that can have major negative health consequences for a child especially over the course of their lifetime. Children who are fearful of visiting the dental office will become adults who are fearful of using the dental office which can lead to them putting off necessary treatment or ignoring minor issues until they become major issues. The cost both monetarily and physically can be terrible if this particular ailment is left untreated.
But before we get into looking at eight ways to help your kids overcome fear the dental office, let’s see what the experts in dental medicine have to say about the importance of overcoming this particular phobia.
Dental fear and anxiety (DFA) is a huge problem affecting oral health and its clinical management in children (Wu, L., &Gao, X. 2018).
Family structure (nuclear or single-parent family) and the presence of siblings are significant factors that determine if children develop DFA (Wu, L., &Gao, X. 2018). Kids will learn ways to overcome fear from the older people in their lives.
Parental fear of dentists does not significantly affect children’s DFA (Wu, L., &Gao, X. 2018). But, if you don’t take your children to the dentist because of your fears, that can lead to bigger problems down the road.
How to overcome fear of dentist
So as you can see there is some good news, your own discomfort at the dental office need not affect your child and their fear of the office. Of course it’d be different if you’re telling your children scary stories about dental offices right before their first appointment but generally speaking, fears are fairly individual and children can learn to deal with them.
One of the first tips for overcoming the fear of my kids dentist is to simply make it an unknown no longer. One of the big fears is that fear of the unknown. Children don’t know what to expect at the dental office and because of that they become frightened about the prospect of going there.
A great way to alleviate this fear is to simply set up a free consultation with your dental office. Many dental offices allow free consultations and a free consultation will be a great way to introduce your child to the staff, the dentist, and even get a tour of the dental office. By doing this before any appointments, your child can have a good idea of what to expect when they go in and may even be excited to return.
Another important way of making sure that your child overcomes any fear of going to the kids dentist is by meeting with the dentist. This can also be done during the free consultation phase. Talking with the person who will be doing the work with them and meeting the nice staff members are all ways of helping to alleviate any concerns that these people might purposely or accidentally cause them harm. The more a child knows about the individuals involved, the more comfortable they will be when they are doing things like checkups or cleanings.
Dentist for kids
Another way to alleviate the fear of dentists for kids is to also make sure to surround them with positive dental imagery. Instead of having their siblings tell them terror stories of worst-case dental scenarios that happened 100 years ago, watching educational videos on dentistry can help make children excited to learn about this aspect of medicine. Not only can watching educational videos help get them excited about the dental office in general, it perhaps could also spark a lifelong love of learning when it comes to oral medicine in general. Many individuals who became dentists had great experiences with dentistry at young ages and had good experiences at the dental office themselves. So not only is the extra learning going to help alleviate any fears that a child may have about the dental office but can also lead them to a very lucrative career.
Fear of dentist
When people talk about the fear of dentist, what children most often are talking about is both the fear of the unknown as we mentioned earlier and the fear of pain. Nobody likes to go into an unfamiliar situation when we are frightened that may cause us discomfort. However, professional dental offices know how to help alleviate these fears and one of those ways is to start encouraging parents to have their children brush and floss already at home.
Children who are already used to sticking toothbrushes in their mouths and flossing their teeth are going to be children who will be more desensitized when the dentist needs to stick a mirror in the mouth as part of a checkup or to polish children’s teeth. Good oral practices at home will help make it easier for your children to engage in good oral practices at the dental office.
This can be especially true if your kids are particularly proud of how well they do at brushing and flossing. Your child may be very excited to show off to the dental office that they have absolutely perfect teeth and they already know what they are doing. This commitment when going to the dental office with a bit of competition can be a great destresser. This leads us to our next way to alleviate the fear.
My kids dentist
Incentives! This one is going to include a couple of potential tips that you could utilize but let’s start off with the ones that your dentist uses. One way that dentists help to alleviate fear is by making dental medicine fun for children. Part of that can be by giving them tours of the office as we mentioned earlier but another way that can make it fun is by giving them things like kid-friendly brushes and flosses.
By making dental visits fun and by making even the very process of dental health care enjoyable for children, they are not likely to be afraid of something that they enjoy doing. Some dental offices will even offer incentives like prizes or raffles for kids who do particularly well at maintaining their oral health.
Another incentive that is oftentimes offered at dental offices is just making sure that the dental office itself is a fun, warm, and welcoming environment. This welcoming environment can be anything from the friendly staff to making sure that there is a wide array of quality toys, games, and reading materials that are all clean, fresh, and ready for their youngest clients.
You can even help incentivize good oral health at home by running prizes or giving out rewards yourself for when your kids do great at the dental office or do good work at maintaining their own oral health. When all of these things are combined, your children will not only not be afraid of my kids dentist, they will be looking forward to every visit.
A sizable portion of children have dental fear and anxiety (DFA); however, it does not have to be that way. Unfortunately, some children are so afraid that their fear can be classified as a phobia.
When children are frightened of the dentist, it tends to create tense situations for the parents, other siblings, and the children themselves. However, there is still hope and help available if a parent is persistent and willing to help their children overcome the fear and even make going to the dentist pleasant.
If this is your scenario, you’ve come to the right place. By learning some different tips and strategies that parents can employ to help their children get over dental fear and panic, your family can overcome this issue.
Firstly, parents can use positive language when describing the dentist and the process their child will undergo at the dental office. When parents speak well of the dentist, children will be encouraged to feel calmer and more relaxed about the dentist.
Secondly, if your child has a dental visit coming up, you can help ease any fears they may have by visiting the dental office before the appointment so that your child can meet the staff and dentist and can get familiar with them before the big day. It is possible for parents to help their children overcome fear.
Wu, L., &Gao, X. (2018). Children’s dental fear and anxiety: exploring family related factors. BMC oral health, 18(1), 100.https://doi.org/10.1186/s12903-018-0553-z