Is Your Child Afraid of the Dentist?

Is Your Child Afraid of the Dentist?

Is Your Child Afraid of the Dentist?

Is Your Child Afraid of the Dentist?

Studies show that about 20% of the population avoid dental visits due to fears or phobias. In most cases, the fears begin in childhood. Neglecting routine dental care can lead to lifelong dental issues. Parents should instill the need for dental care in their children from a young age. Building a trusting and comfortable relationship with a pediatric dentist will help to protect your child's oral health. 

Understanding Dental Fear 

Dental fear or anxiety is a reaction to the perceived threat of a procedure or treatment. Fear is common in young children and can lead to dental phobias in adulthood if not dealt with. A phobia is an intense, unrealistic, and persistent fear, and it is more difficult to manage. Managing dental fear begins with acquiring knowledge and building a trusting relationship with the dentist. Avoiding the dentist worsens the problem since waiting allows severe dental issues to arise.

Causes of Dental Anxiety

If your child fears the dentist, it could be due to various factors. The most common causes of dental fears include:

  • Fear by association. The parent's attitude often contributes to a child's fear of the dentist. If you have a dental phobia or anxiety, your child will pick up your fear. 

  • Fear of pain. Most patients develop dental fear due to a past painful experience. For children, fear may develop from stories they have heard or what they imagine. 

  • Fear of needles. For many children, it is fear of needles, rather than the procedure itself, that causes anxiety. Using a different form of sedation can help to reduce anxiety.

  • Gagging or choking reflex. Children who have difficulty controlling their gag reflex usually develop a fear of dental care. 

  • Fear of loss of control. Losing control while in the dental chair can cause alarm for both children and adults. 

Scheduling Dental Checkup

The best way to ensure your child does not associate dental visits with pain is by scheduling regular checkups. Do not wait until your child needs a painful procedure to visit the dentist. If the first visit is for fillings or extractions, your child will have a negative opinion of dental visits. Your child's introduction to the dentist should be for a simple checkup. The pain-free process will help build trust, and your child can leave the clinic feeling calm. 

Helping Children Overcome Dental Fears

There are things you can do to help your child overcome their fear of the dentist. Pediatric dentists have relevant training to manage anxiety and fear. You can reduce your child's fears by:

  • Communicating with your dental provider

  • Staying calm and knowing your anxiety can affect your child's attitude and behavior

  • Talking to your child before the dental visit; focus on the benefits of the visit

  • Using positive reinforcement or rewards

  • Sedation dentistry, where the dentist uses sedation to deal with extreme anxiety

Choosing a Dental Clinic

The office atmosphere can play a significant role in reducing fear. Choose a dental clinic with a calming atmosphere that helps children feel relaxed. Pediatric dentists are trained to work with children, helping them feel relaxed during dental visits. To manage your child's dental fear, you need to identify the root cause. It will help you come up with the best solution. 

For more on how to deal with your child’s fear of the dentist, visit SA Dental at our office in Santa Ana, California. Call (714) 852-3140 to book an appointment today. 

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