Even though most dentist appointments are routine, a lot of children have negative preconceptions about dentists that can lead to the development of dental phobias. Some parents like to downplay this fear, but the truth is that it can persist if we don’t find ways to help our kids cope with it in a healthy way. It is also important to find a specialist who takes dental anxiety into account before treating patients. Dr. Schmidt, a leading prosthodontist specializing in treating New York patients who fear going to the dentist, discusses 5 ways to handle dental phobia in children:
1. Provide Objective Answers to Your Child
In many cases, children develop fear because of information they receive directly from their parents. To avoid this, make sure you only give objective answers to questions about dental care and avoid using terms like “hurt” or “pain.”
2. Implement Positive Reinforcement
This technique is difficult to master because you shouldn’t promise your child a reward for going to the dentist. That said, whenever you have an appointment, try to create a positive experience by having a joyful car ride or being extra affectionate in order to create positive reinforcement without being too obvious.
3. Don’t Share Any of Your Unpleasant Experiences
Both children and adults can suffer from dental anxiety. However, it is best to avoid sharing any unpleasant experiences, even if you are trying to make a point or are trying to comfort your child.
4. Positive Body Language
Children are extremely receptive and they can pick up on body language very quickly. Therefore, you need to focus on maintaining positive body language, which will encourage your child to be brave whenever you have a dentist appointment.
5. Use Mild Sedation When Necessary
Even if you try all the tips above, there are some cases that are too severe to solve before a necessary dentist appointment. In these cases, your specialist can use mild sedation to soothe a child that suffers from extreme dental phobia. With this in mind, you should consider seeking specialized attention to help overcome your child’s fear as using sedation every time may not be the best alternative.
Find a Dental Practice that Best Serves Your Family’s Needs
Being afraid of professional dental care is common in children as well as adults. It is our duty as parents to find the best ways to minimize their fear and discomfort. It is important to find an oral healthcare expert that specializes in working with children that have dental phobias. If you want to learn more about Dr. Schmidt and the techniques she uses to help children with dental phobia, contact our office to schedule an appointment.