Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety in Kids

Dental anxiety is a very real condition that many kids and adults face. Dental anxiety can cause people to avoid the dentist altogether or avoid necessary treatment. If left untreated, dental anxiety can result in serious oral health problems. If your child has dental anxiety, here are a few helpful tips.

Start dental visits while they're young

It's recommended that you take your child to see a dentist as soon as their first tooth comes in. This will help them get used to dental care and make them comfortable with seeing dentists for routine care. Children learn by example. When you show your child that you care about your oral hygiene, they will want to follow suit. Starting these visits early will set the tone and help ease any anxiety in the future. As you continue to bring your child to these appointments, they will become more familiarized with the sights, sounds, and smells of the office. This will help them associate all these things with positive and fun memories rather than negative feelings like fear or discomfort. When their routine appointments are consistently scheduled at the same time every month, your child will begin to expect that and look forward to their next visit.

Take a comforting item to the dentist's appointment

Some children may be nervous about seeing the dentist for the first time. One way to alleviate some of this anxiety is to give a child something to hold on to during their exam. A favorite toy or even a blanket can be soothing and remind them that their parent is there with them, too. This may make the child feel more at ease with the process, so they appear less anxious when at the dentist's office.

A stuffed animal or small blanket can help soothe your child during a long trip to the dentist's office. Soft music can also be calming and may help distract the child from noticing pain or anxiety. You may also want to practice relaxation techniques at home before an appointment so your child is already familiar with them. When it's time for the actual visit, make sure your child has eaten beforehand. This will reduce the likelihood of nausea during the appointment.

Read stories or play games involving dentist visits

There are several books that help introduce the concept of visiting a dentist's office to children. Reading these stories allows kids to visualize what the process may look like and get comfortable with the vocabulary used during the visit. You can also read stories about dentists themselves so they view them more as friends rather than intimidating figures who examine their teeth.

Give them rewards

Another helpful tip is to make the first dentist appointment a fun event. Consider taking your child out for ice cream or their favorite treat afterward to celebrate their first successful visit to the dentist. This will associate positive feelings with the dentist's office and help your child look forward to returning again for future appointments.

Consider dental sedation

If your child is experiencing severe anxiety about their upcoming dental procedure, consider consulting your dentist. They may recommend a mild sedative to help calm their fears and allow them to receive the treatment that they need. Sedatives aren't meant to make patients feel sleepy or disoriented during treatment; they just help numb pain sensations. Your dentist will provide instructions as to how much medication to take and when they should administer it prior to the procedure. Be sure to follow all directions given to you by your doctor to ensure that your child is safe during surgery.

Teach kids the importance of great oral health

It's never too early to start brushing and flossing your little one's teeth. The earlier you start teaching healthy habits, the better the chance that they will carry this on into adulthood.

At North Star Dental, we ensure to provide each of our patients with a positive and relaxing experience. If you're ready to experience the best dental care, please contact us at (505) 369-1881 or visit us at 9501 Paseo del Norte NE, Suite A, Albuquerque, NM 87122. We will be happy to guide you further.


9501 Paseo del Norte NE, Suite A,
Albuquerque, NM 87122

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