How to Help Your Child Overcome Dental Anxiety

Regular dental care is essential to your child’s oral and overall health. So if a trip to the dentist evokes fear, it’s important to help them overcome this fear.  As a parent, you are instrumental in preparing your child for laying the foundation for a long lifetime of good dental health. To help you accomplish this, Dr. Amanda Darling of Legacy Dental Care in Ballwin, MO, offers the following tips.

Don’t wait

The earlier you start with regular dentist visits, the better. Your child should begin regular dental visits soon after their first tooth erupts, and no later than the first birthday. Building a habit of seeing the dentist from such an early age lays a solid foundation of trust built upon truth. More than anything else, this helps to combat negative ideas about dental visits. 

Begin early at home with building good oral hygiene habits — brushing teeth correctly twice a day, flossing, and limiting sugary snacks. When children learn early that taking care of their teeth is important and dental visits are a part of that care, they are already on the road to great dental and overall health. 

Model good habits 

Small children like to emulate their parents, and this can be a handy tool. Every morning and night, practicing a good oral hygiene routine together is a great way to reinforce the importance of taking care of teeth. 

Building on that, if you are anxious about the dentist, your children can sense that anxiety and will emulate it. Maintain a positive attitude about dental visits. Don’t tell stories about being scared of the dentist as a child, and avoid scary words like “shot,” “pain,” or “scraping” to describe what they may experience at the dentist. 

Battle falsehood with truth

It’s important to always battle fear with the truth, so talk about what your child may experience at the dentist. Use age-appropriate terms and talk to explain how the dentist will look at their teeth, give them a good cleaning, and that there is nothing to fear. Dr. Darling is great with kids of all ages, so share that she is a friend who provides an important service. 

Sometimes it may be a good idea to practice a dental visit at home, and have some fun with it. Set up a play dental chair, and use some utensils on a tray as your “dental tools.” Drape a towel under your child’s chin, have them open wide, and count their teeth. Use their toothbrush to show how the dentist will clean their teeth. 

The more your child knows about the upcoming dental appointment, the less anxious they will be about the visit. They may even grow to look forward to seeing the dentist and sharing the news of a new tooth. 

Choose the right dentist

Your child's dentist is a vital partner in your family’s overall health team for the long haul, so they should be someone both you and your child trust and feel comfortable with. Kids and families love Dr. Darling, and her staff is always patient and kind. Your can trust the talented team at Legacy Dental Care to provide professional dental care and patient education for the entire family. 

We know that parents and kids alike will have many questions about dental care and good oral hygiene. Dr. Darling is committed to educating every patient on the steps of good dental care and preventive measures to ensure sound overall health. 

Be patient 

In spite of your efforts, your child may get fussy, cry, or refuse to open their mouth. Be prepared with a book, a stuffed animal, a blanket, a song on your smartphone, or some other item that can provide comfort for your child and help them relax. 

It’s important that you stay calm even if your child doesn’t. Our staff has lots of experience with crying, fearful children, and we will work hard to patiently put them at ease. Together, we can ensure they get the dental care necessary and have a good experience that lays a solid foundation for future visits. 

Do you have more questions about what to expect when bringing your child to the dentist? Call our office at 636-203-7519 or request an appointment online

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