Dentist Appointment Anxiety: 3 Ways to Alleviate Your Child's Fears

Taking your child to the dentist can be a difficult experience if he is feeling anxious about the appointment. So what can you do as a parent to help ease his mind? Here are a few tips that can help provide some comfort to your child and make his visit much more pleasant.

Talk to Your Child

Talking to your child about his anxiety may not only help him feel better, but it can also help you understand the root cause of his fear. Perhaps a classmate shared a scary experience or your child watched something disturbing about teeth on television. When bringing up the topic, choose a quiet time when you're not distracted so you can give him your full attention. Also, don't make light of his fear; let him know that you understand. You could also share a fear of yours to show him that you've been in that situation too. This is a great way to build trust with your child and get him to open up to you. With a better understanding of the problem, you will be able to deal with the underlying issues.

Make It a Family Affair

The presence of a parent or even a sibling can help comfort your little one. Scheduling an appointment for both your child and a family member is one way to show him that he is not alone. Children often like to copy their older siblings and want to be just like them, so having your child watch his brother or sister in the dentist's chair can give him that extra boost of confidence he needs. And when it's his turn to sit in the chair, you and his sibling can cheer him on from the sidelines.

Talk to Your Child's Dentist

It may be worth mentioning your child's anxiety to his dentist before the appointment. Some dentists may be able to cater to timid patients by providing some toys in the examination room or setting aside a little extra time beforehand to talk to your little one. Sometimes it takes just a little preparation ahead of time to make your child's dentist visit a lot more enjoyable.

Your child may never be fully comfortable visiting the dentist, but hopefully with some of these suggestions you can reduce his anxiety.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Top Tips for Good Oral Care During Childhood

  • Brushing and flossing
    Begin using toothpaste to brush your child's teeth when he (or she) is 2 years old. Young children tend to swallow toothpaste when brushing, rather than spitting it out. Introduce fluoride toothpaste when your child is old enough not to swallow it. As soon as two teeth touch each other, floss between them once a day. You can use regular floss or special plastic floss holders.

  • Dental visit
    New parents often ask, "When should my child first see a dentist?” Your child should see a dentist by his or her first birthday.

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