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How to Help Kids Overcome Fear of the Dentist

help kids overcome fear dentist

If your children are scared to visit the dentist, you aren’t alone. Dental phobia in children is quite common. Especially if you’ve had bad experiences in the past or have a sensitive gag reflex. Kid Focus Dentistry in Wheat Ridge, CO, has helped many children overcome their fear of the dentist. Here are some tips to handle dental phobia and see how a great family or pediatric dentist (Wheat Ridge) can help!

What is Dental Phobia?

A recent article in Medical Principles and Practice stated that roughly 36% of the population has fear or anxiety when it comes to seeing the dentist. A 2019 study found that about 9% of children have dental phobia, often at its worst between the ages of seven to nine years old.

Dental phobia is on the anxiety spectrum. It causes adults and children alike to have extreme fear and dread when seeing the dentist. This anxiety is often triggered by drilling, injections, and choking sensation. It can often stand in the way of your child having the healthy smile they deserve.

Physical symptoms of dental phobia include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Fainting due to low blood pressure
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Aggression/tantrums
  • Irritability or sadness

Tips to Handle Dental Phobia

While having some hesitation about the dentist is okay, you want to prevent this uneasiness from turning into a strong phobia. That way, your child can get the dental care they need. Here are some ways to make seeing the dentist more manageable for children.

1. Make the Dental Visit a Positive Experience

One of the biggest causes of dental phobia is fear due to past experiences or waiting until your child is in pain to see a dentist. Visiting a dentist can be nerve-wracking for children, and all it takes is one bad visit to make a child afraid for life. However, this fear can be avoided if you make seeing the dentist as fun as going to the playground.

You want to be a great role model when it comes to dental care. If you need a root canal or any other procedure, always be positive when speaking about dental care around your child. If they sense your fear, they will also become nervous themselves. Instead, talk about visiting the dentist in a positive way and explain how you love how fresh your teeth feel after your dental checkups.

Also, be mindful of portrayals of the dentist in movies and television. Many comedy films and even children’s shows have scenes depicting the dentist’s office as scary and painful. Try to quickly change the channel if your child is watching these shows.

2. Keep Up with Oral Hygiene

Pain is a common trigger of anxiety and fear. Most oral pain in children is due to poor hygiene or a lack of early dental care, leading to issues like cavities. Infections cause tooth pain and increase gum sensitivity and bleeding. This sensitivity can make routine cleanings into a painful ordeal, traumatizing your child. Especially when minor treatments evolve into complex procedures to save your child’s smile.

Proper brushing and flossing can help your child avoid these experiences. You can make your hygiene routine fun by brushing together as a family and playing songs on your phone to make sure everyone is brushing for the recommended two minutes.

3. Play Dentist at Home

For most kids, the dentist is the only person who ever touches their teeth and gums. This is a strange experience, especially if your child has sensory issues or it is the first time they see a new dentist.

You can help your child get used to the dental exam by playing dentist at home. Take turns shining a flashlight in one another’s mouth, gently touch your child’s teeth and gums with a toothbrush, and then give them a sticker for a job well done. This may seem silly, but it helps prepare your child for real visits.

4. See a Kid-Friendly Dentist

While many dentists do their best to manage kids, they are not always the best at seeing things from a child’s perspective. It’s better to visit a family or pediatric dentist Wheat Ridge residents trust. When the office has a child-centered approach, it’s easier for your little one to feel at ease.

At Kid Focus Dentistry, we do everything we can to create a positive experience for your children. We only use fun terms like “sugar bug” and “happy gas” to reduce fear. Our office is also a fun place for kids, with games and activities to make children feel at home.

Call now to schedule your child’s next appointment.

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