Have you ever experienced dentophobia, also known as fear of the dentist? It’s estimated that nearly 75% of adults in the United States experience some kind of fear or anxiety around visiting their dentist. Of that number, 5%-10% experience fear so intense that they can be classified as having a dental phobia.
With so many adults experiencing fear around visiting the dentist, it’s no wonder that children often experience dental anxiety. Up to 20% are afraid of dentists, even if they’ve never been to a dental office. Use this blog as a guide to dentophobia and how to get your child’s relationship with dentistry started on the right foot.
Is your child experiencing dentist chair anxiety? Bring them in for a visit at Dentistry for Children, with two Nevada locations. Maryam Sina, DDS, and the rest of our staff are dedicated to providing quality care that meets the individualized needs of every child. Dr. Sina has over 25 years of experience working with children and is board-certified in pediatric dentistry. She’s well-versed in sedation dentistry and makes sure your child feels comfortable.
In adults, some degree of dentophobia may develop from past traumatic experiences at the dentist. In children, however, fear largely is a result of watching and listening. When you complain about a dental experience in front of your child, they might internalize your words and become fearful of the dentist without ever setting foot in a dentist’s office. Children may also develop dental anxiety through talking with other children and seeing depictions of dentists on TV or in movies.
Dental anxiety has many triggers. Your child may be afraid of the dentist themselves, the possibility of pain, gagging, and numbness, or the needles and tools used for procedures.
Helping your child
There are tips and tricks to help your child feel comfortable visiting the dentist. Steps you take before, during, and after a visit can help reduce anxiety and build a healthy relationship with dental care.
Before the visit
Start by telling your child they have a dentist visit days before the appointment. This gives your child time to process and ask questions. Answer their questions with straightforward responses but limit the number of details you give; if there’s a question you don’t know how to answer, tell them to wait to ask the dentist. When answering questions, avoid words like shot, needles, and painful. Also try to avoid discussing your own dental visits with your child.
Make sure you stress that dentists are friendly doctors who want to help your child keep their smile healthy and bright. Frame dentistry as a necessity and emphasize the health benefits. It can also be helpful to play “dentist” with your child. The key here is getting them familiar with the routine of a visit so that the real visit is more comfortable.
During the visit
During the appointment, follow the dentist’s lead. At Dentistry for Children, we work with children every day and are familiar with dental anxiety. We often use sedation dentistry to make your child feel more comfortable and at ease. With sedation dentistry, we use nitrous oxide, a nonallergenic gas, to sedate your child to the point that they’re more relaxed but not asleep during their appointment.
We also know how to act with your child to put them at ease, including:
- Speaking in a kind voice and using simple words
- Engaging your child in conversation to distract them
- Using encouraging reinforcement
- Using positive body language
Our staff is experienced in working with all types of children, including those with special needs. We make sure your child’s appointment is as relaxing as possible.
After the visit
After a visit, use some positive reinforcement. Experts disagree on the value of a physical reward after your child’s appointment, but upbeat feedback is always helpful. Applaud them for their bravery and good behavior during the dental visit and make sure to compliment their teeth.
With some hard work and preparation, you can help ease your child’s dental anxiety. Dentistry for Children makes sure your child gets the care they deserve. Contact our Las Vegas or Henderson office today.