Going to the dentist can be an intimidating experience even for adults. It’s understandable that many children experience dental anxiety. As a parent, there are many things you can do to help your child overcome this and still get the dental health benefits they need.
Give Them an Incentive
Children are often motivated by incentives or rewards. They are more likely to do things if you give them a positive reason to do them. Keep in mind that you want to avoid any negative reinforcement. Don’t punish them for not wanting to go and don’t encourage any fear. After going to the dentist, you can promise to purchase a toy they want or you can take them out to do any activity. You know your child best, so come up with incentives that best appeal to them. Since you are going to the dentist to have their teeth cleaned, it may be best to avoid incentives that have to do with food.
Ask for Sedation
If you’re particularly worried about your child, you can ask your dentist about sedation. Most often they will use conscious sedation. This type of sedation will keep your child awake, but it relaxes them so they can get through any procedures they may have. Sedation can also do more than just relax them. Nitrous oxide can help reduce pain and anxiety in kids. It’s important to note that complications can arise with sedation and you want to only use it if necessary. Your dentist will have more experience, so you can talk with them to see if that is a good option for your child.
Choose the Right Dentist
One option to consider is looking for a dentist that is more suited for your child. While there are many general dentist offices available, you can also seek out dentists who specialize in working with children. These dentists will be more conscious of children who are anxious and their offices are designed to make it a more comfortable experience. For example, a children’s dental office might feature a more colorful design, things to keep kids entertained, and staff that are kinder and more friendly. This environment might be ideal for a child who struggles with going to a dentist.
As you take steps to help your child overcome their dental anxiety, you can apply plenty of good practices at home. Encourage them to keep up healthy dental habits, be an example to them, and talk with them to help them overcome any worries they have. Your care and support are key in addressing their dental anxiety.
Check out this article on what to think about as your oldest becomes a teen!