Dental anxiety is a serious issue plaguing many people with no age discrimination. About 36% of the population suffers dental anxiety for different reasons, including previous traumatic occurrences. Familiarizing your child with the dentist at an early age is necessary, but it is more important to do your best to ensure your child doesn’t have a distressing experience. You need to make them know that the dentist is not the villain in their story as they are sometimes painted in the media.
What Is Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety is the unease and fear that precedes visiting the dentist. It is the feeling of anxiety a person has before a dental appointment. Dental anxiety is one of the most common causes of anxiety, and it is triggered by several factors, including fear of needles and the pain experienced during the procedure.
What Are the Causes of Dental Anxiety?
There are many reasons why the thought of a dental environment triggers fear in people. Knowing the cause of your child’s dental anxiety will make it easier to address. They include
Kids catch on to things pretty quickly. When they notice family members or friends get scared by the thought of visiting the dentist, it rubs off on them.
Past traumatic experience
Preparing your kids for their first dental appointment is crucial because their first experience could shape their perception of dental visits. If their first appointment went terribly, it might haunt them.
Feeling of helplessness
How kids are positioned on a dental chair doesn’t sit right with some of them. Knowing they’re to sit there with little chance of intervention is something they don’t enjoy.
The dental environment
A dental clinic is outright scary to some kids. The needles, drilling noises, smells, and screams are more than enough to build their anxiety.
Fear and doubt
Dental anxiety can be caused by fear, fear of pain, choking, the procedure, and the aftermath. If they aren’t familiar with the dentist, they could also have doubts about how the process would go and if the anesthesia would be effective in keeping the pain away.
How to Deal with Dental Anxiety
The causes of dental anxiety cut across various factors. So, there is no one-size-fits-all way to deal with dental anxiety. The appropriate ways to deal with it may be peculiar to the patient based on the cause and the individual. However, some of the standard methods of managing dental anxiety include
Establish a good dentist-patient relationship
To prevent your kid from developing dental anxiety or to help control it, you should ensure they have a good relationship with their dentist. Your family dentist should be someone who listens and can be patient with your kid. They should be able to explain the procedure to your kid in a way they’d understand and help prepare their mind for it. Your child should be able to trust the dentist.
An anxious patient is psychologically uneasy. The physical can regulate the psychological. So, you can get help to teach them how to employ various realization methods like meditating, breathing exercises, and muscle relaxation. Once they are physically relaxed, it will help them deal with the unease.
Various forms of therapy are available to help people deal with dental anxiety. One may be a better option than the other, depending on the cause of the child’s anxiety. Hypnotherapy is a good choice if the child is scared of the pain. Hypnosis puts the person in a trance and helps them evoke images that will be useful in keeping them calm and relaxed; hypnotherapy can be used to supplement sedation.
There is also exposure therapy, where the patient is exposed to their dental fears after a series of preparations. If the child can’t handle that, they can practice doing it in their imagination. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another form of therapy that is very effective. CBT works by restructuring a person’s negative reasoning and actions. It involves a wide range of activities, including assertiveness teachings and psychoeducation.
Creating a diversion during the procedure is another excellent way to deal with anxiety. You could arrange with the doctor to put on your child’s TV show or listen to sounds or music they find soothing.
While oral sedatives keep you calm but conscious during the entire procedure, there is also general anesthesia that will keep you asleep throughout. The better choice for the child depends on the severity of their anxiety.
Let their favorite person tag along.
You can ask for the dentist’s permission to let someone stay in the exam hall with your kid. Having their favorite person who may be a family member or friend will do them some good. Knowing that they have someone familiar with them will put them at ease.
Are Dental Appointments Necessary for Kids?
You will need to know how to help your child deal with dental anxiety if the mention of a dental visit or being in a dental clinic makes them hyperactive, aggressive, nervous, panicky, or dizzy. Some may even burst into tears. However, you shouldn’t be deterred by these responses, but help your kid address them.
Yes, dental appointments from a young are vital for a kid. It helps them build a healthy dental culture and allows them to grow into adults that aren’t scared of going to the dentist. Regular visits to the dentist can help prevent serious dental problems, including tooth decay, periodontal disease, and even sepsis. It also reduces the risks of diabetes and heart diseases.
Allowing your child to avoid the dentist because you think they can’t handle it won’t help them in any way. They would miss the benefits of regular checkups, which may include curbing a severe dental disease before it becomes full-blown, and they would also grow up to be adults who won’t visit the dentist unless it is life-threatening. Please, do your best to help them deal with their anxieties now.