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Visiting the dentist can be a source of anxiety for many children. From the unfamiliar sounds and smells to the fear of pain or the memory of a previous uncomfortable experience, it’s understandable that kids might feel apprehensive about the dentist. However, as your pediatric dentists in Missouri City, TX, Dr. Parker and Dr. Sana can confidently say that with the right approach, parents can help alleviate their kids’ fear of the dentist, even turn dental anxiety into dental excitement!

How? Here are ten tips to help your child who’s afraid of the dentist overcome their dental anxiety.

1. Start Dental Visits Early

Bring your child for their first dental visit at an early age. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the first visit happen by your child’s first birthday. Why? Early exposure to the dentist and the dental office’s sights, sounds, and smells (and waiting room toys and entertainment!) can normalize visits. Early visits also allow the opportunity for your child to build a trusting relationship with your dentist and dental care team.

2. Choose a Pediatric Dentist

Why opt for a pediatric dentist for your kids’ dental care instead of a general dentist? A pediatric dentist like Dr. Parker or Dr. Sana has specialized training in the unique oral health needs and oral development of kids. As pediatric dentists, Dr. Parker and Dr. Sana have also created a fun and kid-friendly environment, complete with upbeat beachy theme and relaxed vibes!

Thinking that your child won’t open their mouth at the dentist? No worries. The Beach House Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics team approaches patient care with patience and compassion, and we’re well-versed in gentle behavior techniques for infants, kids, and teens. Our priority is always our patients’ comfort in maintaining good oral health and we’re happy to do what it takes to help our young patients feel at ease every step of the way.

3. Be Positive but Honest

We know adults can deal with dental anxiety, too. If this sounds like you, we highly encourage trying to set that aside a little and talk about the dentist to your kids in a positive (yet honest!) way. Try avoiding words like ‘pain’ or ‘shot’ or ‘get it over with’ in talking about a visit, and if your child asks about potential discomfort, reassure them that the dentist will be as gentle as possible while effectively providing care to help their smile sparkle.

4. Role Play at Home

Before your little one’s visit, prepare your child for what will happen by playing ‘dentist’ at home. Take turns being the dentist and the patient; encourage discovery and fun by letting your kid examine your teeth, count them, even brush them! Role-playing can make the actual experience interacting with Dr. Parker or Dr. Sana familiar and less intimidating.

5. Use Books and Videos About The First Dental Visit

Read or watch kids’ books or shows that tell the story of a first dental visit. Our picks? Check out:

6. Visit the Dental Office Beforehand

At The Beach House Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, we love welcoming our new little patients and their adults with a tour of our office—even before the first official check up. We’ve found that a casual visit without the pressure of treatment can help a child who’s afraid of the dentist or help alleviate dental phobia in kids.

7. Practice Soothing Techniques

Prior to your child’s first visit, practice calming techniques with your child such as deep breathing or counting slowly. Return to these techniques when your child is sitting in the dental chair at the start of their appointment.

8. Bring In a Comfort Object

Allow your child to bring a favorite toy or blanket to their appointments. A familiar object can provide comfort in the case of dental anxiety in kids. Parents are also more than welcome to have their really little ones sit on their lap in the dental chair during the appointment.

9. Offer Praise and Support

After your child’s dental visit, praise your child for their bravery. Positive reinforcement can encourage confidence for successive visits. You’ll find that The Beach House Dentistry & Orthodontics team is also full of positive vibes and praise to help boost up our patients.

10. Set Aside Your Own Dental Anxiety

Like we mentioned earlier, sometimes a parent might have their own dental anxiety, which can color how their child views the dentist. Our advice? Prior to your visit, talk about the good things that come out of visiting the dentist: shiny, happy teeth, making new friends (with the dentist and staff), choosing prizes, and receiving new oral care gifts like a toothbrush and toothpaste.

During the visit, stay calm and focused on being positive for your kiddo. Your confidence can set a reassuring tone for your child and allows them to form their own feelings about their relationship with the dentist.

Positive and Stress-Free Dental Care For Kids with Dental Anxiety

If your child is afraid of the dentist, we hope these tips will help alleviate their dental anxiety. And pat yourself on the back, too! Creating positive dental habits early can encourage your kids to value their oral health into adulthood.

As your Missouri City dentist for kids and your partner in your children’s oral health, we strive to bring out your kiddo’s best smile with our easy breezy approach and high quality treatment. Contact us to set up your child’s check up and cleaning. We’re excited to see you!