Along with the occasional cavity or crown, dental anxiety is one of the most common issues we deal with at the Children’s Dental Center. No matter their age, most people experience hesitation or fear when it comes to a dental appointment, so it is no surprise that our youth often find it a bit difficult to come in. Usually, this boils down to a simple fear of the unknown: what if it hurts? What if there is something wrong? What if, what if, what if?
But don’t worry. The good news is that there are ways you can help your child get over their fears of the dentist and move forward with a happier, healthier smile before they ever step foot in the door.
Tip #1: Introduce Your Child to Dentist Appointments Early On
It isn’t news to most parents that children manage new experiences better the younger they are. That is because children are like sponges, ready and open to receiving new information and growing alongside the world around them. The earlier you expose your child to their dentist, the benefits of pediatric dentistry, and the appointment process, the more quickly they will overcome their fears of the dentist chair. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child’s first dental exam be scheduled by their first birthday!
At the Children’s Dental Center, we make it a priority to slowly introduce children to the idea of a dental check-up. For children under two, we generally conduct very quick appointments to expose them to the atmosphere of our office and give them the first in a lifetime of dental care experiences that will ensure they are comfortable coming in.
These early dental appointments are not only important for your child, but for you as a parent, too! Our dentists, Dr. Rowland, Dr. Selecman, Dr. Daniel, and Dr. Melody, make it a goal to educate parents on the developmental process of their child’s teeth and basics of oral health so that you feel confident making sure they are taken care of as they grow older.
Tip #2: Make Your Child Feel as Comfortable as Possible
Making sure your child feels comfortable attending dental appointments means eliminating as many excess stressors as possible. The easiest way to do this is to allow your child to bring whatever comforts or relaxes them to their appointment.
Do they enjoy playing games on an iPad to distract themselves from the noise of a new experience? Bring the iPad to the waiting room! Do they have a favorite toy that allows them to feel supported? That stuffed animal is a welcome visitor to our office! Perhaps the best way to ease their anxiety, however, is simply to be present with them throughout the entire appointment. Feel free to come back with them during the check-up to let them know that dental check-ups are normal, routine events that should not be a cause for fear.
Tip #3: Talk to Your Child About Their Fears
Because this is such a new experience for a child, the Children’s Dental Center recommends encouraging your child to discuss any and all fears with you before coming in for their appointment. Ask them what it is specifically that scares them. Sometimes their answers may include a fear of embarrassment, fear of pain, or even the general feeling of loss of control. Allowing your child to vocalize these concerns helps them to process them before treatment and gives you the opportunity to explain why they should not let these fears hold them back.
If your child has questions about their dental appointment, be sure to answer them calmly, honestly, and positively. Kids can sense when those they look up to are holding back from answering them fully, and knowing they aren’t getting the complete story may be an added cause for fear. If you aren’t sure how to answer your child’s questions effectively, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the dentists at the Children’s Dental Center.
Tip #4: Find the Right Dentist For Your Child
Sometimes the simplest answer to alleviating your child’s concerns is finding a dentist who makes your child feel comfortable. Pediatric dentists are trained in ensuring that anxious children feel calmer during a dental exam and making sure that you choose a dentist who specializes in pediatrics is a step in the right direction.
At the Children’s Dental Center, we have several doctors who are all highly experienced in pediatric dentistry. Dr. Rowland, Dr. Selecman, Dr. Daniel, and Dr. Melody all know how to explain dental procedures calmly and clearly, making kids feel more comfortable when they arrive for a check-up. To learn more about our doctors, click here to view their bios.
Tip #5: It’s All About the Little Things
When it comes to preparing a child for their first dental check-up, no detail is too small to matter. Feel free to inform your child’s dentist about their preferences or aversions, their fears or even their favorite TV shows. For example, does your child have sensory issues that the dentist should be aware of? Do they like to hold your hand when trying something new? Does your child really love Paw Patrol? These are all miscellaneous details that can help the doctor make connections with your child while avoiding causing them further discomfort in the midst of a new experience.
Place Your Trust in Experience
Tooth be told, our patients love us! With years of experience, multiple dentists, and patient reviews that back us up, you can feel comfortable choosing the Children’s Dental Center for your child’s first check-up. We know how important this first experience is, and we’ve got you covered. For more information, visit our website or set up an appointment today!