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Did you know that fear of the dentist, also known as dental fear and anxiety (DFA), affects about 9% of children? Moreover, studies have found that 68% of highly anxious kids have more dental cavities.

After all, when children are afraid, they’re likely to resist going to the dentist. As a result, they can be at a higher risk of developing oral diseases. That includes dental decay, which already affects about 520 million kids worldwide.

So, if your child has DFA, it’s vital to help your little one overcome it.

The good news is that there are several ways to ease dental fear and anxiety in children. We rounded them up below, so be sure to read on.

Go for a Pediatric Dentist

Pediatric dentists are like pediatricians, except they specialize in children’s dental health. That makes them specialists, seeing as they’ve undergone additional dental education and training. Note that pediatric dentistry is one of only 12 recognized dental specialties in the US.

Because of their training, pediatric dentists know kids are more sensitive to pain. For the same reason, they understand their younger patients have special needs. So you can expect them to be warm, caring, and more approachable to children.

Children’s dentists have also trained in children’s psychology. As a result, they are better at handling kids with dental anxiety and fear.

Even the staff members of a pediatric dentistry clinic have undergone training. They’ve learned how to interact with children, especially those who fear the dentist. A pediatric dentist’s clinic itself features child-oriented interior decorations.

Choose a Pediatric Dentist Offering Sedation

Most pediatric dentists can administer anesthesia, but sedation is a different specialization. Thus, not all pediatric dentists offer sedation dentistry, so it’s best to be careful as you search. Look for “pediatric sedation dentistry near me” online as you compare kids’ dentists.

One reason to consider pediatric sedation is if your child has severe dental anxiety. In this case, the children’s dentist gives your kid a sedative medication to help calm them. The oral health care professional may also administer a drug to put your little one to sleep.

In any case, sedation dentistry lets children relax before and during a procedure. The young patients may even have little to no memories of their treatment! That alone helps them avoid becoming even more fearful of the dentist.

Your child’s anxiety may also improve if they don’t have any unpleasant memory of the dentist. Over time, your little one may become relaxed enough not to feel any fear.

Tell Your Child Dentists Are Tooth Heroes

According to an older report, fascination with superheroes may help boost children’s confidence. In addition, it may help them feel more powerful.

After all, heroes nurture hope, promote courage, and encourage braveness.

So, why not tell your child stories about how dentists are like tooth heroes? For example, you can share tales about how they save lives by keeping the mouth healthy.

Don’t worry, as that’s something science continues to prove. For instance, there’s growing evidence linking oral health and chronic diseases. Such health conditions include diabetes and Alzheimer’s, to name a few.

Thus, putting a dentist in a hero’s spotlight may help make your child feel more inclined to see one. For example, your little one may feel less anxious if they know they’re visiting a hero-like person.

Take the Lead

If you’re anxious about going to the dentist yourself, you may pass on your apprehension to your child. In that case, you might want to consider getting adult sedation dentistry too. That can help you feel more at ease during your procedures and treatments.

Once you feel more relaxed, you can start becoming a role model to your little one. For instance, have your kid witness how calm you are by taking them to your dental checkups. Show them that you also think dentists are heroes because they take great care of your teeth.

When your kid sees first-hand that there’s no threat or pain involved, they may lose their fear of the dentist.

If you can’t bring your child to the dentist, you can at least tell them how your visits go. For example, you can share your experience with them during dinner. Tell them you’re happy your dentist cleaned your mouth and that your healthy teeth let you eat food you like.

Regardless of what you tell your child, make sure you mean every word. You don’t want to lie, as studies have shown that kids may also become more dishonest when adults do that to them. Moreover, they can carry that behavior to adulthood.

That’s one of the last things you want from your little one, so be a role model when it comes to honesty, too.

Let Your Child Prepare

Always let children know of an upcoming dental visit. That allows them to process and prepare themselves for the trip to the dentist. Also, don’t forget to remind them how dentists are there to help and that these people are heroes and friends.

On the other hand, you should avoid taking a child to a dentist without prior advice. Doing so can make them skeptical of everything else you tell them. That can make taking them on future visits even more challenging.

Moreover, surprise trips to a dentist can aggravate a child’s dental fear or anxiety. They may think you didn’t tell them about the visit as it’s something unpleasant enough to keep from them.

Prevent and Conquer Fear of the Dentist

As you can see, there are many ways to help your little ones overcome their fear of the dentist. Start by bringing them to a pediatric dentist who can also administer sedation. It also helps if you can be a role model and if you let them prepare for a visit by telling them beforehand.

All that can help your kids conquer their dental fear or anxiety.

Are you looking for other health and dental care guides like this? We have more to share, so browse our other blog posts now!

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