Ease Dental Anxiety with Your Kids
One of the most important ways to keep your kid cavity-free is to see the dentist regularly. Most dental plans cover routine checkups and cleanings, so there’s no reason to skip a visit. However, if your kids have dental anxiety, getting them to the dentist may feel impossible.
It’s critical to take the time to ease dental anxiety with your kids to keep their mouths and bodies healthy. Keep reading for some tips and tricks to make their next appointment easier.
Tips to ease dental anxiety with your kids
Fear of the dentist can be common in children. However, helping them overcome their fears is important for good oral health today and for their entire lives. Here are some ways to help them feel more comfortable at the dentist.
- Start taking your kids to the dentist early. The American Dental Association recommends children visit the dentist within six months of their first tooth or by age 1. Early visits allow kids to become familiar with the dentist and may help reduce anxiety.
- Lead by example. If you’re nervous about the dentist, your kids might pick up on it and adopt the same attitude. According to a study in the International Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, adults can transfer their dental anxiety to family members. Try to have a positive attitude toward the dentist while sharing the value of regular visits. Let your kids know there's nothing to fear by modeling relaxed behavior.
- Read books that explain the dental experience. Reshape children’s attitudes through the power of the page. Pick up library books that explain dental appointments in kid-friendly language. Popular options include Curious George Visits the Dentist by Rey, Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer, and Open Wide: School Tooth Inside by Laurie Keller. Also, try bringing their favorite toy or game to appointments to build more positive associations with the dentist.
- Make your child comfortable with your dentist and their staff. Stop by the dental office before a scheduled appointment so your kids learn what to expect. Introducing them to the dentist and staff without an actual visit can help them feel more comfortable.
- Practice beforehand. Create a dental visit in your home to avoid confusion about what happens at a dentist appointment. Pretend to clean your child’s teeth while explaining how visiting the dentist helps keep their smile in tip-top shape.
- Use relaxation techniques. If you’ve tried everything and your kids still get the heebie-jeebies in the dental chair, don’t fear! Instead, try calming them with some simple relaxation exercises. For example, instruct your child to inhale and exhale slowly and steadily. You can also try a technique where they tense different muscle groups as tight as possible and then release them.
A positive, comfortable relationship with the dentist is important to ease dental anxiety so your kids can maintain good oral health today and in the future.
*Updated April 2023