The fear of dentists, or dentophobia, is a very real problem for a surprisingly large segment of the population. In fact, a recent article suggests that more than 60 percent of the world’s population may suffer from this type of phobia.
Unfortunately, many children also experience some level of dentophobia, particularly during procedures that are more involved, such as those associated with braces and teeth extraction. Overcoming these fears is a crucial factor in helping kids accept and benefit from the dental treatments they need to help ensure good dental health as they grow and mature.
Moms and dads who experience this type of fear may feel unprepared to provide the support and guidance their children need in this area. The following information can help parents put aside their own fear and become better positioned to help their children accept and welcome the dental care they desperately need as they grow.
Select the Right Dental Care Provider
When a child regularly exhibits signs of stress or fear when going to the dentist, parents should pay attention. If the dentist in question sees predominantly adults, their office may lack the bright colors and cheerful atmosphere that help keep young patients interested and upbeat.
A better choice might be to select a dental care provider whose practice is more kid-friendly, such as a pediatric dentist. Dentists who offer pediatric dentistry services are required to take two additional years of formal training, after completing their basic dental school requirements to ensure they are fully prepared to offer children’s dental health care services.
Pediatric dentists may be able to better communicate with their younger patients to help them feel more relaxed during dental care appointments. This is particularly important when working with young children who are undergoing fittings for braces or teeth extraction.
Allow Time for Slow Introductions
After you have selected a dentist or pediatric dentist that you feel will best be able to provide expert services in a non-threatening environment, it will be time to introduce your child to their new dental care provider. It is critically important that this process is not rushed and that the child is given ample time to become familiar with the office and staff.
In order to achieve this goal, parents may want to consider making two or three visits to the dental office with their child before scheduling an appointment for an exam or treatment. On the first visit, the child should be encouraged to explore the waiting area, meet the receptionist, and spend a few moments observing their surroundings. If possible, the second visit should be similar to the first, with the addition of a tour of the treatment areas and an introduction to the dentist and their staff.
After each visit, your child may have questions or thoughts that parents will need to help them explore. Children who continue to seem fearful or hesitant may need additional exploratory visits before scheduling their first appointment.
Replace Fear With Anticipation
When your child is ready to begin treatment, parents can help them maintain a positive outlook by offering some type of reward after each appointment. This is an excellent time for mom or dad to plan an outing with their child. Some ideas for this might include:
- Visiting a nearby museum or library
- Spending an afternoon at the park or zoo
- Enjoying a special lunch at your child’s favorite eatery
This type of reward system helps the child take the focus off the dental care appointment and replace it with feelings of anticipation about what comes after it is over.
Trusting Pediatric Professionals
Good dental health is best when it starts at an early age. The dentists and staff of Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics stand ready to help your children with all their dental care needs! Our services include preventative care, exams, restorative care, childhood tooth extraction, braces, and a complete range of orthodontia for infants to young adults.
In our office, we understand how distressing it can be when children are fearful of visiting the dentist. This is why Dr. Lindsay, Dr. Thomas, and the entire staff take pride in making our little patients feel comfortable, no matter what. When searching for the right pediatric dentist, don’t hesitate to call or stop by and visit to learn more about our office environment and how we can help your little one maintain a beautiful smile for life!