Tackling Your Child's Dental Anxiety Head On

Dealing with a child that is legitimately afraid is one of the most heartbreaking things that any parent can do. Dental anxiety is all too real, especially for the person experiencing it. While many adults suffer from dental anxiety as well, it can be especially acute in children. More importantly, it should never be downplayed or ignored. Your child may seem relatively calm if their next dental appointment is still in the distant future, but if you know that they have suffered from unresolved anxiety in the past then you can expect their distress to increase as their appointment nears.

Of course, dental visits are incredibly important for both adults and children, so dental anxiety is a problem that needs to be tackled. These tips will help you to confront your child's anxiety in a calm and compassionate manner that will hopefully allow them to understand that a visit to the dentist is nothing to fear.

Evaluate the Core of the Problem

If your child is suffering from anxiety over their visit, then there is most likely a reason for it. Surprisingly, not all forms of dental anxiety come from the same place. Is your child afraid because this is their first visit and they don't know what to expect? Are they changing doctors to one they are unfamiliar with? Was a prior procedure painful or uncomfortable? Your goal is to alleviate your child's fears rather than to simply suppress their anxiety, so it is important to understand why they are afraid in the first place. Note that your child may have difficulty expressing this, so it is also important not to push them or make them feel uncomfortable with the process.

Use Information as a Tool

If your child has a specific fear, then now is the time to help deal with it by providing information that will help to address it. If this is their first visit, then simply explaining what is going to happen and why it won't be uncomfortable is key. With more specific fears, such as those that might stem from a previous bad experience, explaining why this visit will be different can help. For more generalized anxiety, you will simply want to be as reassuring as possible while also answering any specific questions that your child may have. The more prepared your child feels, the less nervous they are likely to be.

Speak With the Dentist

Dentists are used to dealing with anxiety in patients of all ages and they are prepared to do everything in their power to make your child feel comfortable and safe. In order for that to happen, however, it is important to speak with them first. Explain your situation in detail, being sure to provide information on any specific fears that your child is suffering from. The more information your dentist has, the more they will be able to help your child get through their anxiety. With time and understanding, your child will understand that a visit to the dentist is a positive event rather than something to dread.