Did you have a bit of a rough time at the dentist when you were a young child?
If you did, you’ll understand how your own child feels if they are apprehensive about visiting the dentist. Even if you didn’t, we’re sure you won’t like seeing your child feeling anxious or outright fearful when the next dental visit is due.
Some kids have absolutely no issues visiting a dentist and enjoy chatting with the dentist and the staff. They like getting a goodie bag at the end of the appointment, too. After all, who doesn’t like free stuff!
So with these kids, there’s really not a lot of preparation to do. Tell them about the visit, and ask them to clean their teeth really well, if they’re old enough. For younger children, cleaning is still the parent’s role. Next, simply arrive at the dentist’s office 10 minutes ahead of the appointment time.
In this blog post, we’re going to focus on two things: children who’ve had the first appointment and, for whatever reason, didn’t like it or were upset; and children who simply don’t like going to see the dentist at all.
If your young one’s first appointment caused some stress or upset, your child may not want to go to the dentist again. The first thing to do is to sit down and gently talk to your child. Ask some open-ended questions to discover how your child is thinking and feeling. If you were at that first appointment, you will have some idea what happened. Maybe your child started gagging, or they got a fright from something. Maybe they simply didn’t like the dentist, or have a general sense of unease about going to the appointment.
With the problem out in the open, you should be able to provide solutions. And remember, you are not alone when it comes to sourcing solutions. Oakville Dental Place in Oakville is happy to work side-by-side with you to come up with a plan that will make seeing a dentist much more appealing to your kid.
To start, have one or two visits where no treatment happens to help your child let go of any anxiety and learn to feel comfortable. Ask the dentist to give your young one a ride in the chair and a goodie bag, too.
If gagging is the issue, then it’s best to take it slowly and go at the child’s pace. The dentist will listen carefully and stop when your child asks so that gagging becomes a thing of the past.
If your child got a fright or simply didn’t like the dentist, ask to see a different dentist and ensure that things go slowly. Explain each next step to your child so there are no surprises.
A child who won’t go to the dentist at all creates a challenging situation for parents. Discuss your concerns with us here at Oakville Dental Place. We’re used to working with young ones who don’t like the dentist and who say they will never go for a check-up. We’ll assist you with options and solutions.
First, with a situation like this, keep the lines of communication open, and let your child know why you value visits to the dentist so much. Find your own words, but try to explain that it’s because you love them and want the best for them—and that means good health and great teeth.
One of the easiest ways to deal with a general anxiety about going to the dentist is to plan some practice visits. Tell your child ahead of time that they are going to the dentist just for a visit—no treatment. Remember, children like routine and if they know the visit is happening, they will be more open to going.
Practice visits can be two or three appointments where no treatment is planned, but your child gets to visit the office, chat with people, and have a ride in the dentist’s chair. If they are lucky, we might even let them ride up and down in the chair!
We’ll talk about their interests and hobbies and then slowly move the conversation over to why everyone needs a dental check-up, what’s involved, and how it’s a very simple and comfortable experience.
All the planning and practice will by now bring about an openness in your child so that they’ll be prepared to sit in the dentist’s chair and have their teeth examined. For children who are still not happy, be prepared to experience some crying and maybe even tantrums. Remember, however, that dentists have a lot of experience with anxious children and will be happy to talk through all your concerns and help make things work for your child.
A fear about going to the dentist is very real for some children and adults. There are a range of options to try so that this fear can be overcome.
1. The Buddy System
This solution is what it sounds like. A parent or special person in your child’s life comes to the dentist with them, holds their hand, and is supportive all the way through the examination. This person talks to the child gently and positively.
2. Sedation Dentistry
For children (and adults) who are unable to deal with anxiety about seeing the dentist, we will discuss nitrous oxide sedation. This is the use of laughing gas to help your child relax but remain conscious while the treatment takes place. It’s very effective for children who are open to going to the dentist, but afraid of the actual treatment.
3. Child Psychologist
For serious phobias, we recommend seeing a child psychologist who will work with your child and try to get to the root of the fear. Even talking about how your child feels with a trained professional can be helpful and, in some instances, the conversation alone can alleviate the phobia.
Know that you’re not alone when you have a child who needs encouragement and preparation for their next dental visit. We are trained professionals who have helped many children work through anxiety and fears. Contact us now; we’re happy to do the same for your child and lead them to a place where they feel okay or even happy about being in the dentist’s chair!