A trip to the dentist can be scary and upsetting for some children, and having a fear of the dentist is not that uncommon. With 75% of adults in the US reporting some level of unease at visiting their dentist.
The Importance Of Dental Care
Regular visits to the dentist are essential for people of all ages. However, during childhood, it is especially important that your child pays a routine visit. As your child grows, there will be lots of changes that happen if your child’s mouth. As baby teeth fall out and new teeth take their place, and your child’s jaw grows, their teeth will be under high risk of problems forming.
Added to the changes as your child grows, you should also factor their diets. Many children love sugary drinks and sweets, and too much sugar can cause problems, and your child may need fillings and plaque removal.
A trip to the dentist can highlight any problems with a dental care routine, because, although your child may brush twice daily, they may be missing parts of the mouth or not being thorough. Getting your child into good dental hygiene habits early will help them out for the rest of their lives, meaning that overall, there will be less need for any dental procedures with well cared for teeth.
But when your child has a phobia of the dentist, getting this vital care can become somewhat of a challenge.
What Is Dentophobia?
Dentophobia is the correct term for fear of the dentist. There are many causes for this fear, and it may stem from a bad experience on a particular visit. If your child has had a painful or uncomfortable procedure carried out, then this may be the root of the problem.
Dentophobia need not be something that is brought about by experience. Instead, it can be learned second-hand. This may be through other people who are afraid of the dentist, or from media representation of the experience of visiting a dentist being something to be scared of. If a child is told that something should be feared, then it is only natural that this becomes a way of thinking.
Dentophobia can be linked to the physical experience, as well as the sounds and smells associated with the dentists. The fear may even extend to a fear of the dentist themselves.
How Can You Help A Child With Dentophobia?
There are a number of things that you can do to help your child if they are experiencing dentophobia. You do need to understand that it may be quite traumatic for your child to fear the dentist in this way. By showing them that you understand and are taking their fears seriously, then you will be able to get them onside. Forcing your child to just get on with their trips to the dentist and to get over it will only lead to further problems.
Positivity And Encouragement
If you have ever seen a roll of stickers on the walls of your dentist surgery, these are handy rewards that your dentist will give to your child after they have had their teeth inspected or any minor work carried out. The dentist will usually give these with some praise, telling the child how brave they have been, or how well they acted.
Including positivity within the child’s trip to the dentist will help to ensure that they will go back. Think about ways that you can help build positive associations for your child when it comes to them thinking about their trip to the dentist. If there is somewhere that your child particularly likes to go, take them there immediately after the dentist as a reward each time. Eventually, they will come to associate going through the fear and stress of going to the dentist with gaining something positive. Overtime, this will help to lessen the feelings of anxiety.
It is always going to be vital that you give your child lots of praise for any visits to the dentist as well as any treatment they receive. This will help them build up lots of confidence surrounding going to the dentist.
There are a number of different relaxation techniques that can be applied to dentophobia. These include deep breathing, guided meditation, and muscle relaxation techniques.
There are genuine health benefits in going to the dentist, and at times in a person’s life, it may become severely necessary. It is crucial that fears such as these are dealt with as early as possible, and if the methods mentioned previously are not helpful, then it may be worthwhile seeking the assistance of a therapist who can help your child to overcome their fears.