Going to the dentist is something that is necessary throughout your life. Kids need to visit the dentist regularly to ensure that their teeth are developing properly and to catch any issues before they can cause serious damage. Adults need to visit the dentist regularly to maintain good oral health and get treatment when necessary. Professional oral care should be a permanent part of your life. Because of this, it is extremely important for kids to embrace the idea of visiting the dentist regularly. If it is accepted as a normal part of life then kids are more likely to continue with the practice of routine dental care into adulthood. Unfortunately, anxiety about going to the dentist is a common issue for kids. The fear of the unknown and concern about pain can make the thought of visiting the dentist a scary one. If you have a child who struggles with anxiety when it is time to go to the dentist, there are a few steps you can take to help ease that anxiety.
Be 100% consistent with routine dental visits
If getting your child to the dentist is a struggle it can be tempting to skip routine visits from time to time. However, skipping a routine dental visit stretches out the time between visits to at least a year. This large gap of time makes the process of going to the dentist less familiar. If your child struggles with anxiety about going to the dentist because of the ‘fear of the unknown’ the longer gap will make future appointments even more difficult. Instead, commit to being 100% consistent with routine dental visits for your child. Over time, the entire process will become familiar and that familiarity may help reduce the anxiety your child feels about going to the dentist.
Pay attention to how you talk and feel about going to the dentist
Your kids pick up on your own feelings about things. Do you have anxiety surrounding routine dental visits? If so, have you made comments that communicate that anxiety to your children? Making an offhand comment about going to the dentist may not seem like a big deal to you. However, for a child who is already anxious about going to the dentist, any type of negativity about going to the dentist could sound like a confirmation of his or her fears. If you have anxiety about going to the dentist it may help your child’s anxiety for you to address your own feelings.
It will likely take some time and patience to help your child overcome anxiety about going to the dentist – but it will be worth the effort. Helping your child deal with anxiety now can set him or her up for a life of good oral health.