When children are young, it’s not uncommon for them to be nervous about going to the dentist. Not only is it uncomfortable having someone in your mouth cleaning your teeth, but sometimes it can be painful if they hurt the gums or bump a nerve. As a result, some children experience dental anxiety. They may worry about going to the dentist for months, refuse to go, or lose sleep over it. If you have a child who has dental anxiety, here are eight simple tips to help them overcome it.
1. Make the Dentist Fun
Make the dentist fun by including ice cream or other treats after the dentist. If children know they’ll have fun surrounding the dentist appointment, they will be less likely to be nervous about it.
2. Ask for Sedation
If children are nervous about their appointment, it’s okay to ask for sedation. Especially if your child is having work done on their teeth, sedation can help calm their nerves and decrease their sensitivity.
3. Go Together
If your child is nervous, it’s important you go to the dentist with them. If your child is nervous, they may feel calmer if you go into the room with them. They may just need emotional support to feel calmer.
4. Choose an Excellent Dentist
Choosing an excellent dentist is one of the best ways to reduce dental anxiety for your child. A good dentist will talk to your child and make them feel comfortable while being gentle about cleaning their teeth. Some dentists even specialize in pediatrics or have a pediatric endorsement. Other dentists may include small prizes or toys for children after their appointment is finished.
Practicing a fake dentist appointment with your child may help them be less nervous. At home, practice brushing your child’s teeth or helping them floss. This will help them prepare for their appointment.
6. Talk About the Dentist
It’s also important to talk to your child about the dentist so they know what to expect. Talk them through each of the procedures they will experience, whether it’s just a cleaning or a filling. Talk to them about what they may feel or experience including how long it will take. If they know what to expect, they are less likely to feel anxiety about the unknown.
7. Bring Headphones
Some children get nervous about sounds they hear at the dentist. Especially if the dentist needs to use a drill, wearing headphones can help block some of the sounds. If you play their favorite music, this can also help distract them from their appointment.
8. Give Rewards
If your child has dental anxiety, giving rewards can also help calm their nerves. You can consider different rewards, like letting them have a friend over or paying them for good behavior. Providing rewards can help a child look forward to their dentist appointment as they enjoy their reward.