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Dealing with dental anxiety

Being scared of the dentist is a very common issue among children (and adults!). Hearing horror stories and seeing scary dentists on TV and in movies can make a child nervous. Coming to the dentist does not have to be scary! Here are some tips to help your child be less afraid when it comes time for their dental visit.

  • Keep positive language
    • The best way you can prepare your child for a dental visit is by keeping an upbeat positive attitude. Children can pick up on a parent’s own anxieties so be honest with yourself. If you have dental anxiety, be cautious of the language you use to describe dentistry. Phrases like “I hate the dentist” or “It’s going to hurt” do a lot of damage in shaping your child’s attitude towards dental work.
  • Try to avoid over-explaining.
    • If your child asks you what is going to happen the best answer is to say “let’s ask Dr. Ashleigh when we get there”. As a pediatric dentist, Dr. Sebro has spent additional time after dental school learning how to communicate with children in ways that are age and developmentally appropriate. How she will explain something to a 3 year old is not the same as how something will be explained to a 13 year old. Explaining things on a child’s level is a key factor in addressing dental fear.
  • Don’t have them come watch you at your dentist
    • Sometimes parents will think that having a child watch them get a procedure successfully done will be a good motivator. To a young child they are just seeing Mommy or Daddy get scary stuff put in their mouth. Even if you’re giving them a thumbs up, your child is going to remember how scary it looked when it is their turn in the chair.
  • Let them know you’re proud of them
    • One of the greatest motivators in a child is parental approval. Let them know that you’re proud of how brave they are! This can be the extra push that helps them overcome the challenge of a tougher procedure. Knowing that you are their biggest cheerleader will help your child feel a sense of accomplishment after dental work is completed

At Wilton Pediatric Dentistry we pride ourselves in converting anxious children into happy patients. With time, most children are able to overcome their dental anxiety and become confident kids who have no problems with dental care. Dr. Sebro encourages parents to drop by with children who may be a little scared just to say hi and see the office in a low stakes way. If this is something you feel might benefit your child, give us a call and we’d be happy to set it up. It is our goal to help our patients grow into confident adults who have no problem going to the dentist.

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