It is great to start education children about how important their teeth are soon as possible. This sets them up in the best possible way to keep those gnashers in good condition for the rest of their lives. However, what happens when your child has built up anxiety and distress related to visiting the dentist? This is a widespread problem and sees many parents worrying about how to help their children grow past their phobia. So how do we reduce dental anxiety in children?
New Study Shows That Watching Cartoons Can Help Reduce Dental Anxiety in Children
Okay, this isn't exactly what it seems so don't start switching on Peppa Pig just yet. A study published in Acta Odontologia Scandinavicahas shown that providing children with a visual distraction whilst receiving treatment can lower stress levels and increase cooperation of the child whilst in the dental chair. The study looked at a range of 56 children who all suffered from a degree of dental anxiety which had led them to be 'uncooperative' with the dentist during previous visits. The children were split randomly into two groups. One group were given a visual distraction in the form of a popular cartoon whereas the other group were given nothing. The results were significant in showing increased cooperation of the children given a distraction. This enabled the dentist to treat the children with much more ease creating a much more bearable experience for all parties. The next step for the trial is to increase the number of subjects to be tested. Although there was a fairly small sample of children taking part in the experiment we can take much fro the outcome. The brain CAN easily be distracted from unnecessary worry and distress. Cartoons do not have to be the only way that you can help your reduce dental anxiety in children.
Our Top Tips on How to Reduce Dental Anxiety in Children
All children are different and you, the parents, are in the best position to pick and choose the techniques that you believe your child will respond best to. So have a look through our top tips on how to reduce dental anxiety in children and cherry pick the nuggets that you think will work best for you.
1. Listen the fear away
You will find that most dental practices do offer some form of music that patients are able to listen to whilst receiving treatment. If not then why not ask your dentist if you are able to bring in something for your kid to listen to. They can then pick out something that they enjoy to listen to and this will remind them of those relaxing times when in the dental chair.
2. Limit the wandering thoughts
Imagination is one of the most incredible things about children. This can lead them to question new things in great detail. In order to limit the worry that your child may have try to keep everything as simple as possible. What we mean by this is that you don't need to go into too much detail about what is going to happen when they visit the dentist - particularly for their first visit. This keeps their minds from wandering to easily into a direction that might build up worry about the upcoming dental visit.
3. Stay calm
It is completely normal for children to fidget and be a little uncomfortable when the dentist is looking in their mouth. Some parents will see this and begin to feel anxious and distressed also. Your child will be able to notice this and this may elevate the stress even further. If you are able to stay calm then it will help your child to feel less stressful as they will feel more indications that the environment must be safer than they had thought previously.
4. Bribery will probably backfire
It is an easy solution to offer your child some form of treat 'if they behave themselves' or 'don't make a fuss' whilst at the dentist. The issue with this is that the incentive itself is giving a signal that something bad is going to happen. Your child may start to think about what may be so bad that you need to bribe them not to get upset whilst at their dental appointment. This can plant a seed of dread where there may not have been one previously.
5. Give emphasis on the importance of good oral hygiene
It is important to teach your children about why they are going to the dentist. Not to 'get a check up' or 'have their teeth examined' but to make sure they will have a beautiful smile for many years in the future. If your child understands that what the dentist is doing is important and that it is necessary for them to be healthy in the future then you start to develop a solid foundation of building blocks for the future of your child's oral hygiene.
Fear No More!
We hope that this list of advice will give you the confidence to help keep your children's oral hygiene on track. If you have any worries or concerns relating to dental phobia or how to reduce dental phobia in children then the best policy is always to have a chat with your local dentist. We see many children each day and this helps us to understand particular patterns and thought processes that need to be avoided if your child is going to feel comfortable during their visit to the dentist.