Ways to Ease Dental Anxiety in Children

Little girl having her dental checkup

Many American children dread visiting the dentist. School-aged children in particular exhibit dental anxiety, which prevents them from receiving the best dental care. A child who is fearful of spending any amount of time on a dental chair is among the most problematic patients a New Albany dentist encounters in the clinic. So, what can dentists and parents do to alleviate dental anxiety and manage irrational fear?

Parents as Good Role Models

Parental involvement is critical in managing dental anxiety in children. Children look up to their parents and serve as their first and most important influence. If parents set the example on how to behave during a dental appointment, then the children will see that a dental clinic is not a particularly fearful place. The way parents orient their children determines how they feel towards oral care procedures.

Relaxation Strategies

While some recommend distracting maneuvers to elicit a child’s cooperation during tooth fillings, fluoride treatment, and extraction, many experts recommend relaxation strategies instead.

Relaxation techniques such as slow and deep breathing and sequential muscle relaxation produce the desired effects when done correctly. Way before it is time to take children to the dentist, parents can teach these relaxation strategies to them.

Sedation

Laughing gas is a harmless and popular option to induce calmness and cooperative behavior in a child. Anti-anxiety medications without side effects have already been developed, and are being used in various preparations by pediatric dental practitioners all over the United States. Parents must seek only professionals for sedation, especially when deeper sedation is required, which is administered using intravenous drugs.

Lastly, parents must find a pediatric dentistry practitioner. Not all practicing dentists are specialized in pediatrics. Finding a specialist who works exclusively with children is a good first step. A professional who has the right training and exposure is better equipped to ease children into the flow of dental procedures.