Taking your child to any medical provider isn’t always an easy outing, and dentists are no exception. About 9% of kids have dental fear and anxiety — the sounds, the equipment, the sensations, and the strange environment can all make children less than comfortable.
While the team here at Hillsdale Dental Care, led by Dr. Magdalena Azzarelli and Dr. Roge Jacob, make every effort to put your child at ease during their dental exam with us, there are some steps you can take at home.
Here are a few tips to help make your child’s next trip to the dentist an easier one.
Read up on dentistry
There are a couple of ways you can take the mystique out of dentistry at home, such as reading books that focus on going to the dentist. If you do an internet search for children’s books about going to the dentist, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you may find some that include your child’s favorite characters.
These books prepare your child for the dentist and go a long way toward reducing their fear as they take the journey through characters on a page first.
Get their favorite “friend” involved
You might also encourage your child to look after the dental care of one of their favorite dolls or stuffed animals. They can “brush” their favorite toy’s teeth after they brush theirs and, when it comes time to go to the dentist, they can bring that doll or stuffed animal with them. Don’t worry–we’ll play along!
This way, your child isn’t alone in going to the dentist because their dental partner is by their side.
Don’t make dentist appointments a threat
One thing to avoid at all costs is using a trip to the dentist as a threat or consequence of poor hygiene. In other words, steer clear of saying, “If you don’t brush your teeth, then you’ll end up at the dentist.” While this may be true, it makes dental care more of a punishment, which can lead to a good deal of anxiety or fear.
In fact, even small words matter, so saying, “Tomorrow, you get to go to the dentist,” is far preferable to, “Tomorrow, you have to go to the dentist.”
Plan something afterward
To make the outing to our office even more exciting, you can build activities around the appointment. We hesitate to say bribe, as it may not be a good idea to position the activity or treat as a reward for getting through the dental visit. Instead, you can say that they get to visit the dentist and then go to the playground, or something along those lines.
Distraction at the dentist
If you know your child’s anxiety is high, you can try bringing along something that they can listen to while we quickly perform our work. Perhaps their favorite music or an audiobook that will engage them and help them focus on that sound rather than the unfamiliar ones around them.
Every child is different, so you may have your own tricks for helping to ease your child’s anxiety. If you take some steps at home, rest assured, we’re prepared on our end to deliver anxiety-free pediatric dental services.
If you have more questions about addressing your child’s dental anxiety, please contact our office in San Jose, California, to schedule a consultation