It’s no secret that some children have an apprehension when visiting the dentist. It’s a place they are not familiar with and some cartoons can portray dentist visits as a painful, and overall bad experience. However, a new study is showing that children may have other reasons to be nervous about visiting a dentist. The study reports that children may be picking up on their parents’ fear of visiting the dentist and treat them as their own feelings. There are a few ways that parents, children, and even dentists can make a big difference.
The survey combined with this study showed that a potential painful visit was the top reason that children are anxious about going to the dentist, checking in at 54% of respondents. Dentists and parents are encourages to be up front about a procedure that a child may have to undergo. It’s very common for a parent to say “this isn’t going to hurt” while research indicates that most children did not consider the fact of pain until the parent brought it up. Sticking to the positive sides of the dental trip can enhance the overall experience. Telling the child that the dentist will brush their teeth and count them are two positive ways to treat an appointment.
Dentists can pitch in the help ease the fears of children in many ways, beginning as soon as they walk in the door. Having magazines or other toys targeted at a child can help distract them while waiting to meet with the dentist. It’s encouraged to have a bright, decorated waiting room and provide activities that a child may be familiar with.
During the actually examination, have an open line of communication with your dentist. Raising your hand is an instant cue to the dentist that you are uncomfortable and would like a break. Don’t be afraid to re-gain your composure before asking the dentist to continue.
Additionally, communication between the parent and the dental office is essential in making the best experience possible for the child. It’s ultimately the parents decision on whether to physically go into the examination room with the dentist and they should make that decision knowing how your child may react. From the dentist’s perspective, being up front and clear about all potential procedures can ease the mind of both the child and the parent.
The same study showed that 55% of mothers and 40% of father reported being nervous before their own dental appointments! Research indicates that adults become more relaxed when they encounter a friendly and helpful staff. Additionally, they would prefer to have an procedure explained in clear, non-technical terms for better understanding.
It’s important to remove any and all fear or anxiety from a child as early as possible when it comes to visiting the dentist. A bad experience as a youth can lead to a lifetime of fear and unwillingness to visit the dentist. Proper oral hygiene is important at all ages, and even more important to continue on a regular and consistent basis. Work with your dentist to provide the best possible experience for yourself and your child!