Overcoming Children’s Dental Anxiety in Wheaton

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Overcoming Children's Dental Anxiety

A trip to the pediatric dentist can be a scary event for a child. Especially the first visit, or if they had a bad experience their first go around. As parents, we understand the importance of routine exams and promoting good oral hygiene, but our kids often don’t. Dr. Joshi discusses what she has seen of children’s dental anxiety in Wheaton and tips to help your child overcome their fear. Bonus, this helps relieve stress for you too!

Gradual Exposure

Consult with your pediatric dentist as to when you should begin your child’s routine dental exams. Starting them young with gradual exposure to the dentist, dental office, sitting in the chair, the instruments, etc. will all slowly become familiar. Often children and adults feel a lack of control when sitting in the dental chair with their mouth open. The more positive experiences we have in the chair the more trust we typically gain. Give your child the security of sitting next to them and allow them to ask their Wheaton pediatric dentist questions and verbalize how they are feeling. Gradual exposure is also extremely helpful for when a procedure is needed. If they are accustomed to routine visits, they know if they feel pain in their procedure that isn’t typical of normal dental visits. They also have established trust with the pediatric dental office easing their nerves a bit.

Ask Your Child What They Are Scared Of

“Why are you scared of the dentist?” “What are you afraid will happen?” Sounds simple and easy but this step is often forgotten. It is common for children to be fearful of the dentist so we often assume the reason as to why this fear exists. Asking simple questions will help them express their fear and allow you to address it head on. If the visit is for a routine check-up, tell them it’s only to check for “sugar bugs” and make sure their smile is healthy. If it is for a procedure, don’t lie to them but be vague on details. You don’t want your child to lose trust in you or their pediatric dentist if you say “it won’t hurt” when you know (or are unsure) a little pain will be involved.

Role Play

A fun activity to do with your child is to have a “pretend dental visit” with them. Make it simple, easy and fun. This is an opportunity to emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene. Explain to them what a pediatric dentist does and how it helps our smiles stay healthy. Start by being the dentist on your child or even on stuffed animals. Be extremely gentle, caring, informative but most of all, have fun! Let your child then pretend to be the dentist on his/her stuffed animals. This is a creative way to prep them for their visit and gives them something fun to share with their dentist.

Sedation Dentistry for Kids

There are patients and certain procedures that do best with the assistance of sedation dentistry. DPD Smiles offers a range of children’s sedation dentistry options and which option is best, is determined on a case by cases basis. By employing safe and effective methods like nitrous oxide (laughing gas), general anesthesia, and IV sedation, we make it possible for even the most upset or nervous patients to enjoy a successful, comfortable dental appointment. If you and/or our dentist believe incorporating some type of sedation dentistry will be best, we will go through the entire procedure with you and make sure everyone is comfortable before moving forward. We have a pediatric anesthesiologist on staff who is specially trained to work with newborns, infants, children, teens and special needs. If integrating a level of sedation is agreed upon, our team can give guidance on how to approach this with your child as well.

Positive Dental Experience

Overall, emphasize the positive and not the negative of the dentist. If you are fearful yourself of the dentist, be extremely careful not to pass this onto your child. Choose a pediatric dentist you trust and are comfortable with and this will show through to your child. Make the experience “fun” for them. While you don’t need to reward your child for going to the dentist, a positive association is great. Praise them for how well they behaved, go to the park after, or do anything that your child finds pleasant. For trusted Wheaton pediatric dentistry, contact Dr. Joshi and the DPD Smiles team today!

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