Dental anxiety is the feeling of uneasiness, worry, or nervousness about an upcoming dental appointment. Dental anxiety is very common among children. Some children feel anxious about the sounds, smells, and sights of a dentist’s office. Others feel anxious about the potential pain. Children who are nervous or fearful about dental visits may avoid going to the dentist altogether. Routine dental visits are important for your child’s oral health. Starting dental visits early can help your child have a positive association with the dentist’s office.

Start early

Many parents don’t realize the importance of getting a child’s first checkup as early as their first birthday. This visit serves many purposes, including identifying oral health concerns early on, familiarizing the child with the office and staff, and starting a positive foundation for a lifetime of oral health. The earlier your child sees a dentist, the better chance they have of avoiding cavities and other common childhood issues. Starting early also helps with anxiety management, as children are less likely to be fearful about a trip to the dentist’s office if they’ve already had a positive experience there. Consider scheduling their next visit before their first birthday and making future appointments on a six-month basis once they’ve started going to the dentist regularly.

Take a comforting item to the dentist’s appointment

Taking a stuffed animal or other small, calming item with you to your child’s dental appointment can work wonders for easing their worries. For many adults, a dentist’s office can be a source of anxiety, so it only makes sense that the same would be true for kids. By taking items with you that have sentimental value or are “comforters” for your child, you can help them to feel more at ease during the visit.

Try taking these items along with you the next time you take your child to the pediatric dentist — they will be glad you did!

Read stories or play games involving dentist visits

We suggest that you read books about going to the dentist with your child. Try to find one that focuses on the same treatment your child will be receiving during their visit. For example, if you are taking your child to get a small cavity filled, read a story about a little boy who goes to the dentist’s to get a cavity filled. You might also choose a pretend-play about dental visits with your child at home to prep them for their upcoming appointment. This can help them gain a better understanding of what will happen during their dental visit!

It’s also important to discuss with your child what they might expect during a visit to the dentist’s office, so there aren’t any surprises. Let them know in advance that the visit will be short and they won’t need to sit in the chair for very long. While they may be a bit nervous when they arrive for their appointment, you should encourage them to express any worries they might have.

Teach children the importance of great oral health

Children learn best by example, and modeling good behavior is one of the most powerful ways to teach your children about oral health care. You can show them that you’re taking good care of your own teeth by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. You can also explain to them why you’re taking care of your teeth – to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other health problems that can impact your overall health.

If you’re interested in learning more, schedule an appointment with Tanega Dental, located in South San Francisco, CA. We are equipped with the best dentists and the latest technologies. Call us at (650) 794-0203 and schedule an appointment with our family dentist. 

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