Dental Anxiety and Your Children
Dental anxiety or dental phobia: no matter what you call it, the phenomenon is real. More often than not, the fear starts early. To ensure that your children do not end up being terrified every time they go to the dentist, Reston Serenity Smiles offers the following suggestions:
- Start early. While they won’t remember it, you should take your child to the dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts. This will help determine if your child’s development is appropriate and if the teeth appear to be positioned properly.
- Bring them to your appointments. If they see you being a trooper in the chair, then they’ll know there’s nothing to be afraid of. They can marvel at the equipment, have their teeth counted, and even feel like they’re helping you be brave.
- Talk about it. Talk about brushing teeth, flossing, and going to the dentist. Read age-appropriate books about going to the dentist and play make-believe with your child in the role of dentist. Not only can this demystify the dentist, it can actually help your little one look forward to their visits.
- Be consistent. Make sure they know how important dental care is by modeling good dental health for them every day. You can’t expect them to be model dental patients if their most important role model isn’t.
- Enforce the routine. After work, homework, dinner, and storytime, you may be too tired to argue with your little one about brushing and flossing. No matter how exhausted you might feel, be sure to enforce the routine. This includes semi-annual appointments to the dentist. The longer your child goes between appointments, the greater the chances of them developing anxiety over the unknown. If they see their dentist routinely, they’ll know that there’s nothing to fear.
- Make it fun. You may be perfectly satisfied with a red Oral-B toothbrush, but that’s not what your child wants. Let them pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste so they’re more likely to use them. Make up a silly song that lasts as long as they need to keep brushing.Reward them with a toy from the dollar store after a successful trip to the dentist so they have something to look forward to each time.
Your job as a parent is to make sure your child thrives as an adult; with some time and patience, you can set your child up to have only positive associations with the dentist as they grow older. Whether you’re a super-parent or a super-friend to a parent, Reston Serenity Smiles wants to help you have your own positive associations with dentistry. If you live in or near Reston, Virginia, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.