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5 tips to help with dental anxiety in children

Dental anxiety is very common in the community among adults and children. Unfortunately, fear of the dentist in adulthood can stem from frightening dental experiences during childhood. At core dental we understand the importance of positive dental experiences for children as this can make or break their relationship with the dentist and their oral health for life! By working together with parents we are able to make your child’s visit pleasant and rewarding. 

Anxiety-free dentistry for children starts even before attending the dental practice, here are 5 tips to help with dental anxiety in children:

Teach them young

One of the best ways of helping with dental anxiety in children is to bring them in for their first check up at a young age. A child’s first dental visit can be as early as 12-24 months. Getting exposed to the dental environment and having their mouth and teeth checked is a big achievement for a young child, even if the check is only brief they will remember the experience and it will shape future visits. Also don’t forget to introduce tooth brushing as soon as your children have teeth.

Introduce the idea of the dental visit at home before visiting

Let them know that they’ll be going to the dentist for a check-up, use positive language and don’t frame it as a scary experience. Reading a children’s story book or watching a cartoon about going to the dentist is a great way to introduce the idea. Reward them after the dental visit but try to avoid bribing them with rewards before the visit as this may be counterproductive.

Don’t reflect any personal negative experiences onto your children

Often children will develop dental anxiety because someone else (usually a parent or adult relative) has rubbed their anxiety onto their child. Sharing your own negative experiences with your child and using scary language such as ‘they’re going to give you a needle’ or ‘you’re going to get your tooth pulled out’ can be very distressing to young children. Try to keep negative connotations and language out of the dental visit. Our dentists will use child-friendly language to explain procedures to your child to keep them calm.

Role modelling

This is one of the most effective techniques for reducing anxiety at the dentist, if a parent or sibling is attending for a regular check and clean, bring your child along. Seeing a role model sit through a dental visit will help to alleviate children’s dental anxiety. Be sure not to bring children along to appointments where more involved procedures are being completed, that might scare the child away!

Ensure regular attendance

Coming in every 6 months for a regular check and clean is a sure way to reduce dental anxiety. With regular attendance, visiting the dentist will soon become a normal routine. If a child only sees the dentist when something is wrong or when they have a toothache, they will always associate the dentist with pain and discomfort which might make their anxiety even worse.

Both parents and dental professionals play a very important role in shaping a child’s dental experience. At Core Dental our staff are well trained to deal with children and we will do everything we can to make your child’s visit to the dentist fun and pleasant. There are always more options for anxious children including referral to a specialist children’s dentist or the use of happy gas during dental visits.

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