Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety in Kids

Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety in Kids

Posted by Daniel Vasquez Mar 19,2023

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While most adults feel some anxiety about visiting the dentist, children tend to be more fearful. Dental anxiety in youth can lead to a lifetime of dental fear, poor oral health, and avoidance of necessary dental treatments.

Tips for Managing Dental Anxiety in Kids 

  • Start dental visits while they’re young

Starting your child’s dental care early can have a significant positive impact on their comfort and anxiety levels during future appointments. A common misconception is that baby teeth are not important because they’ll fall out anyway. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Baby teeth are the first set that comes in and is used for chewing food initially and eventually for speaking clearly. If they fall out too early due to decay, then permanent teeth will not have room to come in and fill the space left by the lost baby tooth. This means crowding of the mouth and the need for orthodontic correction later on in life.

Additionally, primary teeth act as placeholders for adult teeth and guide how the jaw will grow and develop. So if we wait until a child is almost an adult to begin thinking about their oral health with a professional cleaning and examination, we may be doing them a big disservice in the long run. We can ease them with friendly faces in the office and make them feel like they are part of our team. We can make oral healthcare a positive experience for all involved so that it becomes a routine part of their life rather than something to fear. In this way, we can set them up for a bright and healthy smile for life!

  • Take a comforting item to the dentist's appointment

A stuffed animal or other toys your child loves can help foster a sense of security during visits to the dentist. Bringing an item your child is familiar with can help ease the child’s anxiety about seeing the dentist and will put them in a positive frame of mind.

What to avoid bringing:

Avoid toys that are too distracting for your child. Some children may become frustrated if the toy cannot fully occupy their attention while at the dentist's. Instead, consider bringing a favorite book to read, a game to play, or a tablet to watch their favorite shows.

  • Read stories or play games involving dentist visits

Reading books or taking your children to the game store to pick out a new game that involves a dentist’s office can also help to ease their nerves and prepare them for upcoming appointments. For younger children, reading stories about going to the dentist can help them visualize the experience and help put them at ease. There are many games that can also help them understand what to expect during their visit to the dentist.

  • Use role-play to your advantage

Role-playing can be a great way to introduce children to the idea of visiting the dentist in a fun way. Ask your child to act out what they will do at your next visit. Then, they can practice opening their mouths wide for the hygienist and brushing their teeth at home. This will help prepare them for their upcoming exam while also helping them.

  • Read stories or play games involving dentist visits

Stories and games about going to the dentist are excellent ways to help children prepare for their first visit to the dentist's office. Reading these stories with your child can help them feel more comfortable with the idea of going to the dental office for a routine checkup and cleaning.

Games are also a great way to introduce children to the idea of going to a dentist's office. There are a lot of board games dedicated to the need for great oral health, as well as countless educational apps on tablets and smartphones that teach children about the importance of brushing and flossing their teeth every day.

  • Teach kids the importance of great oral health

Many parents do not understand how crucial oral hygiene is to their children’s overall health until they are faced with dental emergencies that might have been prevented with proper oral health education. Children who are educated about how to care for their teeth and gums at home are more likely to take care of their teeth than children whose parents are not so familiar with this basic care routine.

In addition to teaching your child good at-home hygiene, it is also important to visit a dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. The earlier you introduce your child to the pediatric dentists in your network, the better! This will decrease their risk of developing cavities and other dental problems. It will also allow them to form a positive relationship with the dentist and his or her staff. These relationships will make it easier for them to accept advice and treatment when they are older.

Regular visits to the dentist will help ensure that your child is practicing proper brushing and flossing techniques and will minimize the chance of developing cavities, plaque buildup, gum disease, and other common dental issues. Parents should also be aware of scheduling regular cleanings themselves so they, too, can develop and maintain excellent oral care habits. This includes eating a healthy diet, using fluoride toothpaste, and avoiding tobacco use. All of these things will contribute to a healthy smile for your child.

  • Lead by example

One of the best things you can do for your child is to show them the importance of great oral health! If they see you taking care of your teeth and going to the dentist regularly, they are much more likely to do the same when they become older. Speak to your pediatric dentist about ways you can help your child develop good oral hygiene habits now so that you can avoid problems in the future. We want your child to grow up with a healthy smile that they can be proud of! Contact us today to find out more!

Contact Vasquez & Associates Dental Office if you have any questions about oral care. You can schedule a consultation by calling (760) 529-5339 or visiting us at 3601 Vista Way Ste 105, Oceanside, CA 92056. 

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