Although dental visits are important for ensuring good oral health, some children report finding strange noises, people, and equipment at the dental office contributes to fear or anxiety about visiting the dentist. In this post, our Toronto dentists share some tips for dealing with dental anxiety in children.
Signs your child is scared of the dentist - and what you can do about it!
When your kid is anxious about visiting the dentist, it can be hard for them to see past their fear. Your child may show both emotional and physical symptoms depending on their severity: peppering you with questions leading up to the visit, suddenly feeling sick or becoming sweaty, crying, complaining, or even throwing temper tantrums can all be signs of a nervous kid.
Fortunately, it is normal for children to have this fear. Many of our fears form in childhood, and one oft-reported phobia is a fear of dentists or dental treatment.
There are a number of steps willing dentists can take to help children with a fear of dental visits feel more relaxed. Although your child may pick up some of your fear about the dentist, you can also play an important role in shifting their perspective by following these tips:
Start at home
Kids like being able to predict what’s going to happen next. With this in mind, you can discuss what to expect at the dentist shortly before their first appointment.
- Give simple, concise answers to their questions. Explain that the dentist is a friendly doctor who will count their teeth and make sure they’re strong and healthy.
- Avoid telling them about your own fear or painful experiences. They don’t need to learn about wisdom teeth removal, root canals, and other procedures yet.
- Avoid using words such as “shot”, “painful”, or “hurt”. The dreaded S.P.H. trifecta reinforces dental anxiety for nervous kids.
Your dentist's role
Your dentist can be an ally in easing children’s dental anxiety. At Bay Street Dental Associates, we focus on making every visit more fun and reducing stress for children by:
- Focusing on prevention. We aim to avert any oral health issues before they happen to ensure your child’s teeth and gums remain healthy.
- Creating a positive dental environment. A friendly team and fun games to play make all the difference and provide a distraction from nerves.
- Developing tailored treatment plans. Every child has unique requirements that need a unique dental treatment plan tailored to their growth and development. We use various approaches depending on your child's needs.
Dental Sedation in Children
The idea of giving sedative drugs to children can make parents feel uneasy, especially when it comes to dental care. Parents often ask us if it’s worth it for a simple dental treatment. Isn't it going a step too far? Shouldn't they allow their children to grow accustomed to visiting the dentist naturally?
There is no doubt that sedation and anesthesia should be taken very seriously. However, these procedures are safe for a child when used judiciously, and done by experienced and trained medical professionals.
Sedatives can play a key role in providing children with preventive, important dental healthcare.