Easing Dental Anxiety in Kids: Strategies for a Stress-Free Dental Visit

Some studies have shown that as many as one out of every ten children experience some fear or anxiety when they go to see their dentist in Jacksonville. It’s essential to help children overcome this anxiety before it develops into a full-blown phobia later in life. Parents play a huge role in assisting children to overcome dental anxiety but may not know where to start or how to help their child with something like this. Here are some strategies for overcoming dental fear in kids so their future visits to the dentist can be as stress-free as possible.

Choose the Right Dentist to Help Overcome Dental Anxiety

You want to choose a dentist who has a bright, cheery, and kid-friendly office layout. This is more important than you might imagine. Kids love spaces that look like they’re designed with them in mind. Offices that are dark or gloomy are more likely to add to their anxiety. You also want to ensure that everyone on the office staff and the dentist has a cheery disposition. At Smiles by Shields, we practice fluoride-free, mercury-free, and holistic dentistry and love working with kids. Our office staff will work to make sure your kids are as comfortable and relaxed as possible when you bring them in for an appointment.

Set a Good Example for Dental Anxiety

A recent study in the Dentistry Journal found that the process of dental anxiety often starts when a child picks up on a parent’s fear of the dentist. This, in turn, makes the child fearful, and if it’s not dealt with during the early years, your child might develop a phobia of seeing the dentist. If that happens, they are more likely to forego seeing the dentist when they become adults, which can jeopardize their oral health.

Parents can set an excellent example for their children by emphasizing the importance of oral care and seeing a dentist regularly. If their parents are open to visits to the dentist, it can have a significant impact on their confidence. If you don’t suffer from dental anxiety, it can be helpful to bring your child to an appointment so they can see what happens during a routine checkup and cleaning.

Practice Makes Perfect

Another source of dental anxiety is that a dentist’s office is initially unfamiliar to children. By keeping up with regular visits and getting teeth cleanings every six months, a child can learn over time that there’s nothing to fear from going to the dentist. Starting regular dentist visits early helps a child understand that this is a regular part of life. The more “ordinary” a trip to the dentist feels, the less likely your child is to experience anxiety.

Give Advance Warning

If your child experiences dental anxiety, it may be tempting to wait until the last minute to tell them that they have an appointment. This strategy doesn’t work as well as giving them plenty of warning beforehand. They need to process their anxiety, and you can help by talking with them about their fears and what happens during an appointment. Talk about X-rays, teeth brushing, the exam, and other procedures. If you need to figure out what a procedure will entail, please call our office ahead of time and ask questions. This way, you can answer your child’s questions and help them prepare for the appointment.

Don’t Be Too Descriptive

Sometimes, you can add to a child’s anxiety by describing too much of what will happen during an appointment. For example, if your child is coming in to have a filling installed, it might not be a good idea to tell them the dentist might be “drilling” their tooth. You’ll want to avoid that, as it can sound scary to younger children.We’re used to working with kids with anxiety and their parents to help them overcome this common problem. If you’re looking for a Jacksonville dentist, contact us at Smiles by Shields to schedule an appointment today.