Dental fear and anxiety can take many forms. While people of all ages can experience anxiety over going to the dentist, children can have an especially hard time getting comfortable and feeling safe.
From the fear of needles and drilling to a general fear of the dental office itself, addressing your child’s anxiety before their first dental appointment is the best way to help them relax so they can get the oral health care they need.
At Oasis Pediatric Dental Care & Orthodontics in Falls Church, Virginia, Nathalie Phaeton, DDS, Ki Youn Kil, DDS, and our team offer pediatric dentistry services in a warm, comfortable, and welcoming environment.
Setting up your child for a successful first visit
Many children are often too young to remember their first dental appointment, because these visits are recommended around six months after the first tooth erupts or by the first birthday. However, there are still plenty of children who don’t have their first visit this early, so by the time they do go, they will likely have heard scary stories from friends or others.
In either case, the most important factor in helping them feel safe and comfortable is to establish a “dental home” where they can feel safe and get to know the dentist. A painful or negative experience at the dentist can scar young children, so our team prioritizes making your child’s first visit as pleasant and enjoyable as possible.
Depending on your child’s needs, the first dental appointment usually includes:
- Thorough exam of their teeth and gums
- Gentle cleaning
- Information and education about how to care for their teeth and gums at home
In addition to choosing the right dental home, you can help manage your child’s anxiety by bringing their favorite toys, games, books, or media to keep them calm and distracted on the way to the appointment and while they wait to see the dentist.
Additionally, keeping up with a regular schedule of preventive appointments can allow your child to get used to going to the dentist and help them develop a relationship with the staff, so they can know what to expect and feel less anxious during subsequent visits.
Good oral health starts at home
In between appointments, you can help your child embrace the importance of good oral health by making daily oral hygiene a fun activity that they look forward to rather than a chore they dread.
For starters, try to schedule a regular routine where they brush and floss at the same time every day. Anything from getting them a special toothbrush and toothpaste to making it a fun game you play every day to setting up a simple rewards system can help take any anxiety out of the process for young children.
Giving them a good oral hygiene routine can also help them feel proud of their oral health. And, this, in turn, can help them look forward to showing off their progress the next time they visit the dentist for a checkup.
To learn more about managing your child’s dental anxiety, or to find out more about the pediatric dentistry services available at Oasis Pediatric Dental Care & Orthodontics, call 703-483-9933 or book an appointment online today.