How to Ease Dental Anxiety in Kids
While the dentist’s office is a safe space for children to connect with staff and learn about oral health, many experience anxiety before their appointments. Thankfully, going to the dentist doesn’t have to feel scary! Your child can have a great time if you prepare them properly before their visit. Here are a few tips and tricks to help ease your child’s dental anxiety.
Don’t Use Dental Appointments As A Fear Tactic
While brushing and flossing every day is a necessity, many children forget. And some are even defiant and ignore mom and dad’s requests to care for their teeth. It may feel tempting to tell your child, “Your dentist is going to be super upset if you don’t brush,” but this form of communication is often more harmful than beneficial. While it stresses the importance of caring for their teeth, it makes children think of their upcoming dental visit as a punishment and creates unnecessary stress before their appointment.
Children need to know that dentists are here to help, not punish them for poor oral care. If you have a defiant (or forgetful) child, try making their routine more fun! Creating a personalized process will make your child feel more excited about caring for their teeth and reinforce healthy habits. It will also allow you to get your point across without creating a negative association with the dentist. Please check out one of our most recent blogs to learn some easy tips to make oral care fun for your child!
Opt For A Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric dentists are one of the best resources to reduce your child’s dental anxiety. While a general dentist can provide proper oral care, pediatric dentists have undergone extensive training to treat children and cater to their unique needs. We have an experienced team of compassionate pediatric dentists who know how to reduce dental anxiety and make every appointment fun!
Our pediatric dentists also create a safe space for children to learn more about oral care. We use countless resources to demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques to help make the process simple and transparent for anxious children. Texas Tiny Teeth’s educational environment makes it easy for children to relax and enjoy their time interacting with our staff. Even the most anxious children will feel comfortable and excited to come back!
Give Your Child a Heads-Up
Just like adults, children are used to their daily schedule. Springing a dental appointment on your child can surprise them and create excess anxiety and stress. Please give your child a heads-up before their appointment, so they have ample time to prepare themselves mentally.
We encourage you to sit down with your child and discuss their upcoming appointment. Are they attending an orthodontics consultation, receiving x-rays, or getting a semi-annual cleaning? Giving your child these details and explaining the process to the best of your ability allows them to create a mental picture of their upcoming visit. Also, always remind your child that their dentist can’t wait to see them and is super excited about the appointment! We always want to remind children that their dentist is a friendly, helpful resource they can trust!
Play Pretend Dentist
Try implementing the idea of dental visits into playtime if your child is not used to visiting the dentist or feels uncomfortable with the process. In a fun, familiar environment, pretend to be a dentist and encourage your child to act as a patient. Walk them through the process and ask them to open wide as you “examine” their teeth! Even encourage your child to pretend they are the dentist for a little extra fun!
Make sure to keep it fun and playful, so your child associates positive thoughts with their upcoming dental visit. This exercise is an excellent way to introduce your child to the appointment process and experience it in a lighthearted way. As a result, your child can prepare and relieve their anxieties before the official visit. We love when patients come into our office knowing exactly what to expect!
Bring a Comfort Item
Shy, nervous children can benefit from bringing their favorite comfort items to their dental appointments. Whether it’s a small blanket, stuffed animal, or tablet that allows them to play games during downtime, comfort items can bring relief and reassurance during times of stress. Just ensure their chosen item isn’t too big or distracting so we can still get the job done!
If you or your child prefers to keep their comfort items at home, we have countless resources around the office to provide entertaining distractions. We offer TVs in every room so your child can enjoy their favorite cartoons while our team makes teeth squeaky clean! We even have gaming systems to give children the opportunity to let loose and relieve their stress. Who knows — your child may even hit their high score on their favorite game at their next dental appointment!
Reward Good Behavior
We always recommend positive reinforcement whenever possible! Tell your child they can have a small prize if their dental appointment goes well and they stay brave the entire time. Small gifts are an excellent way to remind your child that visiting the dentist can feel rewarding and fun! We recommend a quick trip to a dollar store. Discount stores often have a wide variety of small toys at affordable prices.
We have you covered if you don’t have time to stop by the store! Every child can visit our toy treasure chest after their appointment. There is a vast selection of fun toys and gadgets for children to explore and pick out their favorite. We have some of the best patients in DFW, and we always want to reward their super-star behavior!
Pediatric Dentistry in Dallas-Fort Worth
Children’s dental anxiety is completely normal, but there are countless steps we can take to encourage our little ones to love visiting the dentist! Our dedicated team at Texas Tiny Teeth wants to work alongside you to help your child feel confident before, during, and after their dental visit. Please schedule an appointment with the pediatric dentists who prioritize your child’s comfort and happiness. We can’t wait to assist you!