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Did you know that more than 36% of people suffer from some degree of dental anxiety or dental fear? Dental anxiety often begins during childhood. If your child is scared of the dentist, you may be wondering what you can do to make taking him to the dentist a much easier task. 

Fortunately, there are many things you can try to ease your child’s dental anxiety. Usually, the root of the child’s fear is irrational. The child might think that the dentist is specifically someone who will cause them pain. 

By explaining the details to your child, you can help him understand the reality of the situation. If your child is too young to understand, dental sedation is also a safe and very effective alternative. Keep reading and learn more about how you can help your child overcome his fear of the dentist. 

What Is Dental Anxiety Exactly?

Dental anxiety can occur in anyone at any age. Usually, it happens when a person is still young and it usually occurs as the result of a bad dental experience. For example, suppose that your child went to the dentist once before and it was a painful and stressful experience. 

This can easily cause dental anxiety and even extreme dental fear in a child, especially if the child is very young and doesn’t know any better. From that point on, the child might believe that every visit to the dentist will be painful and stressful. Of course, if a child really believes that, it can be a real struggle to bring him to the dentist. 

To prevent dental anxiety in the first place, choosing a dentist that is understanding and good with children (such as this pediatric dentistry) is essential. That way, your child will feel comfortable in the dentist’s office and going to the dentist won’t be such a problem. But what about if your child already has dental anxiety?

Your child might say that he’s never going to the dentist. Of course, keeping your child away from the dentist is not a good idea if you care about your child’s dental health. Going to the dentist at regular intervals is important for monitoring your child’s dental development. 

The dentist will be able to see whether or not your child will need braces, if he has any cavities, if he needs to have his teeth cleaned, and so on. A dentist will also be able to treat certain dental problems that you can’t treat at home, such as an overbite or underbite. But if your child simply refuses to go to the dentist, what can you do to make him change his mind?

Explain the Situation to Your Child

Explaining the reality of the situation to your child may help to relieve your child’s dental anxiety. Of course, this won’t work if your child is very young or very stubborn. But if your child is old enough to understand, talking to him can make a world of difference. 

Dental anxiety often has roots in the fear of experiencing pain. If your child thinks that going to the dentist is going to be a painful experience, you should explain to him that this is not true. A good dentist will do everything possible to make sure that your child is comfortable. 

This is especially true for procedures such as cavity drilling, tooth removal, and so on. The dentist will inject a local anesthetic so that any pain will not be an issue. If you explain that to your child, he may relax a bit and be more open about going to the dentist. 

You should also explain the importance of going to the dentist to your child. Without annual dental visits, your child’s dental development might go off the rails.

The Details

A good dentist is necessary for making sure that a child’s teeth come in straight and that the child does not develop any dental conditions such as tooth decay or gum disease. 

It is also important for you as the parent to understand what might be triggering your child’s dental anxiety. Instead of the fear of pain, your child might have another fear that you might not be aware of. For example, your child might be specifically afraid of needles or dental tools.

Your child might also be embarrassed about showing the dentist their teeth. This is especially true if your child has been teased about their teeth in the past. By better understanding your child’s dental anxiety, it will be easier to solve the issue. 

Let Your Child Bring Something That Comforts Them

If your child is very nervous about going to the dentist, consider letting him bring something that comforts him. For example, if your child has a special blanket or toy that he likes, bringing that object along may help soothe your child. This is because such an object is familiar to your child and it may give him the feeling that he is, in a way, protected from the dentist. 

Bringing something to distract your child is also a good idea. For example, if you let your child play with your phone or tablet, he will be too distracted to care much about the dental procedure at hand. Bringing a set of headphones so your child can listen to music is also ideal. 

Music can be very calming and also very distracting. If your child listens to music during the dental procedure or in the waiting room, he will have a chance to calm down, and he won’t make a huge fuss when at the dentist’s office. Of course, you as the parent should also be present during this time.

Comforting Your Child 

Affirming that everything will be fine can be very comforting for your child when at the dentist’s office. You can also promise your child some kind of reward if he gets through the dental appointment. For example, if you promise to buy your child a toy or a treat after the appointment, your child will be more motivated to be on his best behavior. 

However, there are some cases when none of these tactics work. If your child has a serious case of dental fear, he may still be very upset upon arriving at the dentist’s office. He may be so upset that it may be impossible to do any dental work on him. 

In this case, dental sedation may be necessary. 

Understanding Dental Sedation

Dental sedation is not as serious as it sounds. In act, it is actually a very safe and effective method of calming down your child so that the dentist can do his job. Most dentists use nitrous oxide for dental sedation for both children and adults. 

Nitrous oxide is also known as laughing gas. It is called that because it has the ability to put its subject into an elated and happy mood. It also is able to relax the person and make them less aware of the situation. 

Your child will not fall asleep if your dentist gives him laughing gas. Instead, your child will become much more relaxed and his dental anxiety should no longer be an issue. The nitrous oxide will give the dentist plenty of time to work on your child’s dental issues without any problem.

Nitrous oxide also wears off quite quickly, so you won’t have to worry about the effects lasting for very long. Once the dental procedure is over, the dentist will give your child pure oxygen to inhale. Oxygen helps the body dispose of any nitrous oxide that may be leftover. 

After that, your child should be back to normal.

Nitrous Oxide and Anesthesia

Nitrous oxide is great not only for dental anxiety but also for reducing the pain of certain procedures such as cavity drilling and filling. While nitrous oxide cannot completely eliminate the pain, it can make it so your child is much less aware of the pain. 

For more serious dental procedures, however, more serious dental sedation may be necessary. For example, if your child needs dental surgery, your dentist may need to use general anesthesia. This type of sedation will render your child unconscious and unaware of any pain that the procedure might involve. 

General anesthesia takes some time to wear off but after a couple of days, your child should be back to normal. 

Is Your Child Scared of the Dentist?

If your child is scared of the dentist, there are many ways you can reduce or eliminate your child’s dental anxiety. By explaining the situation to your child and understanding the root of your child’s fears, it will be much easier to relieve your child’s anxiety. 

To learn more, check out the rest of our website. 

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