Many adults dread going to the dentist, so it’s hardly surprising that children suffer similar anxieties when faced with a dental appointment. In fact, studies have shown that fear of the dentist can unwittingly be transmitted by parents to their offspring.
According to Stats Canada, 40 per cent of Canadians fear visiting a dental office. Some people may have just mild worries about a dental visit, but in others this apprehension can become a mental-health condition called odontophobia (dental phobia).
Neglecting to have dental treatment from a young age because of anxiety poses significant health risks, including tooth loss and gum disease. Avoiding the dentist may also result in inferior overall health, because gum infections can spread to other parts of the body, including lungs, brain and heart.
Neglecting dental healthcare can also have an emotional cost, particularly in children. Damaged or stained teeth can make them feel self-conscious, and harm their self-esteem. To ensure your child gets the most comfortable experience in the dental chair, look for a practice that specializes in treating kids, such as Kitchener dentist Lancaster Dental.
If you exhibit a negative attitude about dental visits, your children may well see this as normal behaviour, and react the same way when they need a dental check-up or treatment. Whatever is causing your own dental anxieties, it’s important to make a conscious effort to make sure your kids learn to view regular dental visits as a normal part of their oral healthcare routine.
Here are five other tips on how to manage your child’s fear of the dentist…
Start Your Child’s Dental Visits at a Young Age
If you establish a routine of regular dental visits from the time your child’s first tooth emerges, they will accept that seeing the dentist is a normal part of growing up. Regular check-ups will acclimatize them to the dental office and they will learn that they can trust their dentist.
Give Your Youngster Ample Notice of a Dental Appointment
It can be tempting to keep your child in the dark about a forthcoming visit to the dentist until just before the appointment. But this will compact any anxiety into a shorter space of time, and could even result in a panic attack. Your child may also begin to distrust you. Telling your child well in advance about a dental appointment gives them time to get used to the idea, and allows you to address any concerns they may have.
Be Honest with Your Kids
If your child asks you about a forthcoming dental check-up, try to be as open and positive as possible. Explain the procedure in a way they can easily grasp. Communicating with your child like this will help to build trust between you while they learn more about why they are going to see the dentist in the first place.
Find a Dental Office that Specializes in Treating Children
Paediatric and family dentists are experienced in allaying fears of their young patents. They will often have offices and rooms designed to be child-friendly, with a bright and colourful décor to help put youngsters at ease.
Engage Your Child in Fun Dental Activities
Bring the world of the dental office into your home in a playful way. For instance, you can let your child assume the role of the dentist to examine your teeth. Try to find children’s books with stories about positive experiences with dentists.
If you need further advice on managing your child’s fear of the dentist, contact Lancaster Dental, your Kitchener dental office.