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My Child Is Nervous about An Upcoming Dental Appointment

Do you get nervous about seeing the dentist? You’re not alone. Plenty of people suffer from what’s known as dental anxiety — or in simpler terms, fear of dental appointments. 

That fear plays a big part in skipped appointments, along with serious oral health consequences, like cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss. But it’s not just adults who worry about the dentist. Kids worry, too. In fact, studies show as many as 42% of kids, or more than four out of every 10, have a real fear of visiting their dentist. 

Certainly, regular dentist appointments are important at any age. But when your teeth and jaws are developing, those appointments are essential.

The good news is, pediatric dentistry has made a lot of advances in recent years aimed at alleviating dental anxiety. At Today’s Dentistry, we offer the most advanced techniques to help every patient stay calm and relaxed throughout their appointment. 

Even better: There are a few things you can do to help relieve your child’s worries, too. If you’ve got a child with dental anxiety, try these tips to help them get more comfortable with their office visits.

Explain why

Kids (and adults, too) are a lot more likely to be nervous about things they don’t understand. You can do a lot to relieve dental anxiety in your child just by teaching them the “why” behind routine dental care. 

Help your child understand how seeing the dentist can help prevent cavities and keep their teeth healthy. And let them know why it’s important for them to play a role, too, with regular brushing and flossing and choosing healthy snacks. Making them a partner in their oral health gives them a sense of control while also putting a much more positive spin on oral care overall.

Play pretend

If you have a toddler, setting up a pretend office visit with a favorite stuffed animal or doll is a really good way to help your child understand what happens at the dentist. By walking through the steps of a routine visit, you make that visit more familiar and less scary. And by letting your toddler play the role of dentist, you help them gain a sense of control and confidence that can follow them all the way through their next “real” office visit.

Talk to the dentist

At Today’s Dentistry, we know dental anxiety is real — and we also know the toll anxiety can take on our patients’ teeth, especially as they get older. We offer a complete range of techniques to help your child relax, including sedation options like nitrous oxide. Also called laughing gas, nitrous oxide produces feelings of calmness, so your child will stay comfortable and relaxed throughout their visit. Plus, we offer deeper sedation for kids who need more extensive work.

Offer a reward

Offering a reward puts a positive spin on your child’s dental visits. Plus, knowing there’s a reward waiting for them gives your child something to focus on during their appointment. Stay away from food rewards (especially sugary ones), and focus on experiences, like a trip to the park, or small tokens, like a pack of trading cards or a new game or toy. 

Set a good example

Kids learn a lot from their parents. If you’re anxious about seeing the dentist, there’s a really good chance your child will be, too. And if you talk a lot about unpleasant past dental experiences you may have had, it’s almost certain your child will start to worry about their own dental care — even if their own past visits have gone well.

On the other hand, if your child sees you visiting the dentist for regular checkups, cleanings, and other care — without complaint or worry — they’re far more likely to follow your lead and feel more confident about their own visits, too.

Make it a routine

Kids should see the dentist every six months for checkups,just like their parents. Skipping even a single dentist visit gives decay- and disease-causing bacteria a chance to spread, significantly increasing your child’s risk of cavities and infection.

By maintaining a regular dental routine beginning at a young age, children are more likely to accept regular dental visits as part of their routine — and to maintain that routine as they get older. That means that by helping your child overcome their anxiety now, you can set them up for a lifetime of better oral health and beautiful, healthy smiles. 

Give your child the gift of a beautiful smile

At Today’s Dentistry, we help kids in San Jose, California, get the care they need for better oral health and more confident smiles. If your child suffers from dental anxiety, we can help. Give our office a call at 408-978-6601 to schedule your child’s appointment and learn how.

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