How to Manage Dentist Anxiety in Children

How to Manage Dentist Anxiety in Children Dentist Anxiety in Children – Dental fear and anxiety (DFA) is one of the major challenges in pediatric dent...

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How to Manage Dentist Anxiety in Children

Dentist Anxiety in Children 

Dental fear and anxiety (DFA) is one of the major challenges in pediatric dentistry [1]. The prevalence indeed, it is extremely common for children to be fearful or stressed when they have to visit the dentist. This pervasive problem can lead to deliberate avoidance of dental treatment, thereby having a negative effect on the child’s orofacial and psychological health in the long-run. Consequently, we have devised a list of top tips for managing children's dental anxiety, to help alleviate any psychological issues your child may be experiencing, with the overall aim of creating a positive experience for both you and your children when they visit their local dental practice.  

Be Open and Honest With Your Kids 

As the saying goes, ‘honesty is the best policy’. It is advantageous to be as honest with your children about dental procedures so that they are never caught off guard. It’s natural to be fearful of the unknown, particularly when someone is pointing sharp equipment towards your mouth, so having full clarity about what is happening is key to resolving any emotional distress your child may be experiencing.  What this means then is when your children ask about the dentist, avoid illusive answers that will create an air of mystery (children can typically sense this). This may inadvertently have a negative impact on the way they approach the dentist, which may trickle into their adulthood; posing serious oral implications later on in life. Instead, reiterate the importance of regular dental check-ups and the benefit of seeking professional help for all their dental care needs!  

Try to Understand What Is Triggering Your Child’s Fears 

Bad experiences in a dental practice will likely cultivate extreme Dentist Anxiety in Children. One of the best ways to combat these issues is to establish what exactly is triggering your child’s fear. The most common issues are listed below;

  • Fear of Embarrassment

Some children’s oral health may have some glaringly obvious issues that are visible, such as tooth decay or dental deformities located at the front of their mouth. Such dental issues may strike fear of embarrassment amongst children; particularly if they have been susceptible to bullying as a result of this. Consequently, reassuring your children that the dental clinics are professionals who have seen a wide array of oral issues (many worse than the ones your child has), is a fruitful way of calming down their initial insecurities and will hopefully encourage them to be more relaxed.  Top tip: Try to find a dental professional who will continue to communicate with your child during the procedure to help comfort them along the way.

  • Fear of Needles or Injections. 

Trypanophobia is defined as an extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or needles. According to a study reported by the US National Library of Medicine, up to 50 percent of children exhibit needle fear Indeed, knowing there is some pain associated with needles can be very scary for kids - particularly when it's within your mouth. However, if your child avoids needles or injections from a young age, this fear is likely to persist within their adult life - rendering long-term problems like avoiding the dentist (despite that persistent pain they are experiencing in their molars). The keynote to take about here is that dentists are professionals who know how to make an injection as painless as possible (I mean they did get a degree doing it). It’s their job and so they have full experience and expertise within this matter.  Oftentimes, it’s best to keep the needle out of sight by asking the child to close their eyes before the injection is administered. Computerized injections are also a great option because they don’t look like a traditional needle and can control the speed and pressure of the shot.

  • Fear of Anesthesia.

 Some patients are uncomfortable with the idea of being put to sleep and not being aware of what’s going on while they’re under. Others don’t like having a mask on their face. The best approach is to be informative and explain exactly what the patient can expect. Taking it slow and sharing the details of the procedure ahead of time can go a long way in calming the patient. If the stress is severe, dentists should always opt to reschedule the procedure rather than forcing a child, which may amplify the fear even more.

  • Fear of Pain. 

After hearing about painful experiences from other children or adults who’ve had similar dental procedures, it’s hard to not expect the same. However, most dental professionals are dedicated to making young patients as comfortable and confident as possible. Pain management is taken very seriously and, as always, everything should be explained to your kids, so they know what to expect before any procedure is started. Once you have a clearer idea of what kind of fear your child is experiencing and what is triggering those particular feelings, it should be easier to address them and ease their anxiety. 

Find the Right Dentist for Your Child

Bad experiences at the dentist can prompt Dentist Anxiety in your Children. In fact, studies taken place in the U.K revealed a clear correlation between negative interaction made by dental staff members and your children and their subsequent dental anxiety levels. This means that staff and dentists working within the practice have a very direct effect on the child's mental well being. Thus, the friendlier the receptionists and encouraging dental professionals, the better the child's overall experience at the dentist will be. For this reason, it’s essential to find the right dentist for your family’s needs. Opting for a pediatric dentist or family dentistry is a fruitful way of preventing dental anxiety amongst your children. In order to do this, it would be advantageous to inquire as to what methods the dental practice use to help calm nerves and make every appointment a more positive experience. To help, here on some tips on how to choose the best dental plan for your family. At Procopio Towle Dental Practice, our patients are everything to us.  Our aim is to provide a welcoming and inviting atmosphere for every patient who enters our practice, and helps them leave with a big, bright smile! 

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