Kids are sponges — they soak up and process information with astonishing speed. While this is a beautiful, almost magical, quality, children’s overactive minds can also cause havoc. Many kids struggle with nightmares, distressing visions, and anxiety over situations adults might consider no big deal.
Case in point — the dentist.
The good news is that our dentists at Rifkin Dental in Carmel and Yorktown Heights, New York, know what to do. In this blog, we share our years of experience dealing with dental anxiety so you can help your child overcome their fears.
What is dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety is fear or stress surrounding visiting the dentist. Some kids are freaked out by the smells or sounds of our tools; others hear horror stories from friends and family members and can’t shake the negative imagery.
The main concern with dental anxiety is that your child won’t get the care they need. Even if your child is a rockstar with the toothbrush, they can’t clean their teeth as well as our Rifkin Dental team, and they can’t diagnose potential problems.
The longer they avoid the dentist, the worse the problem gets until, eventually, their oral health is at a point when they have to face their biggest fears: local anesthetic, tooth extractions, and the like.
This is why we recommend nipping dental anxiety in the bud and setting your child up for a positive relationship with their dentist. Here are some helpful tips.
How can I help my child overcome dental anxiety?
Start with a conversation. In a relaxed manner, ask your child why they’re so afraid of the dentist. Did they have a bad experience in the past? Do they not like the way the tools feel on their teeth or the sounds they make? Whatever it is, many children can be helped simply by discussing their fears with a trusted adult.
If you have an appointment on the calendar, spend the days leading up to it talking positively about their upcoming trip to the dentist and answering their questions. Some parents have found informational videos and pictures online to help their youngsters understand the procedures and equipment.
Consider rewarding your child with a toy, game, or experience after their appointment. Other help tricks include:
- Allowing your child to bring a comforting toy to their appointment
- Finding stories or games about going to the dentist
- Talking positively about your experiences at the dentist
- Not using the dentist as a threat to encourage oral hygiene
It’s also essential that you see a team of dentists like us who are specially trained to deal with anxious patients. We know how difficult it can be to get your child in the door. Our entire team, from our receptionist to our dentists, is ready to make you and your anxious child feel comfortable and confident.
If you’d like more information about how we cater to anxious patients, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. You can also schedule an appointment online or over the phone today at the location most convenient to you.