Having dental anxiety can cause intense fear, stress, and avoidance of the dentist. But, it doesn’t have to be like that. At Pediatric Dentistry of Horizon West, we offer a variety of dental sedation services, office amenities, and communication techniques to alleviate fear and induce feelings of relaxation.
Read on in this blog to find out what causes dental anxiety, how it can be alleviated, and the ways we deal with it at our dental office.
Dental anxiety is a persistent and intense fear of the dentist or the dental setting. This can be caused by a lack of understanding of dental care, a past trauma associated with dental treatment, a phobia of needles and other invasive tools, or a feeling of a lack of control.
Anxiety that is so intense that it results in a delay or total avoidance of dental treatment can be classified as a dental phobia. This is a common issue that affects many children and even adults. It can be worked around and does not need to result in an avoidance of the dentist.
Children with dental anxiety may sweat, feel their heartbeat increase, have difficulty catching their breath, start crying, show other signs of distress, have difficulty sleeping in anticipation of a dental appointment, feel nauseous or sick when they go to the dentist, or avoid the dentist completely.
Your child could have dental anxiety for many different reasons. A common cause of dental anxiety is a past traumatic incident at the dentist. Your child may have felt claustrophobic, in pain, or feared the unknown.
Children with an anxiety disorder are at a disproportionate risk of having dental anxiety since they are already prone to feelings of stress and anxiety. Other reasons for fearing the dentist can be a lack of trust or lack of exposure to the dentist from a young age.
In addition to a fear of pain and loss of control, some children may feel embarrassed when they go to the dentist if they have bad breath, yellow teeth, cavities, or orthodontic problems. Children with personal space issues may feel like their space is being invaded.
Your child should start seeing a dentist when their first tooth erupts, mostly because forming a positive association with the dentist can impact their feelings about dental care for the rest of their life.
You should always speak about the dentist positively and never show signs of fear, distress, or negativity, even if you deal with dental anxiety yourself. Children can pick up on your body language, verbal cues, and the tone of your voice. If you speak about wanting to avoid the dentist, they will form negative associations with the dentist.
Take your child to a pediatric dental office that is trained on how to effectively communicate with children to eliminate fear and stress. Get in contact with the dentist and inform them of your child’s dental anxiety.
They will help make your child as comfortable as possible, whether this involves using dental sedation, using distractions like noise-canceling headphones and TV, or explaining what the treatment is going to be like in a positive and easy-to-understand way.
Your child may benefit from visiting the dental office before they ever have an appointment. Pediatric dentists offer dental tours to get your child acquainted with the environment, meet the team, and feel at home.
It’s also good to read stories about going to the dentist to your child or to act our dental checkups on them or their stuffed animal. Let them bring a comforting personal item like a blanket or stuffed animal to their appointment if it helps them relax.
Sedation is available for any dental appointment, no matter how minor or routine it is. We also provide a child-friendly environment enriched with comforting amenities to make your child feel at home. These amenities include a child play area equipped with toys and games, refreshments, ceiling-mounted TVs, and even a tech bar.