Many people are uneasy about trips to the dentist. For some though, it’s a truly anxious experience, and children aren’t immune to fear of the dentist. In fact, as many as 16% of school age children are afraid of dental visits.
At Lee Dental in Frisco, Texas, we are experienced with easing the fears of anxious children so that their oral health stays on track. We’ll work with you to create a nurturing and fun environment whenever possible to make dental visits a welcome experience instead of a stressful chore. Consider the strategies we’ve collected here to help ease your child’s anxieties.
The common fear factors
In general, fear of the unknown can be the cause of many childhood anxieties. It’s sometimes a scary world out there and the sights, sounds, and smells of a dentist’s office can carry strong associations. While your child may have a history of dental visits that precede their active memory, the dentist’s office could connect in their minds with certain negative experiences, such as:
- Unpleasant memories of previous visits to a dentist or similar clinical environment
- Fear of “failure” in the form of cavities despite their brushing habits
- Reaction to the unusual smells encountered in a dental office
- The appearance of dental tools and equipment
- Feelings of helplessness or loss of control
- Discomfort with people being very close in their personal space
If a parent demonstrates dental fears, or if they express concern about the costs of appointments, a child can build a negative association without fully understanding what the parental example means.
Preparing your child for a dental appointment
You can ease fear of the unknown by simply describing what goes on at the dentist’s office most of the time. If they’re going for a checkup with no repair work being done, then say so. Describe how dentists and hygienists look into their mouth and poke around to make sure their teeth are healthy. Explain how X-rays work to see below the surface of their teeth. Search for photos of dental offices and equipment so your child recognizes elements of their surroundings.
Bring something familiar with you to the appointment, perhaps a toy, blanket, or favorite item of clothing, a comfortable token that your child can reach for when they feel uncomfortable. A special stuffed toy is a common point of focus that works for some children.
Allow lots of time for preparing and getting to our office. Rushing to be on time could create stress that carries over to the appointment itself.
If you know your child has elevated fears about dentist visits, let us know ahead of time so that we can ease the experience for them. You can make an appointment with Lee Dental by phone or online using the link on this page. We’ll help you prepare your child for a lifetime of comfortable dental visits, so book their next exam today.