Dental Anxiety in Children
Fear of the Dentist
It’s common for children—and adults—to feel afraid, stressed, or anxious when it comes to visiting their dentist. While many kids don’t enjoy going to the dentist, they don’t necessarily feel fear or anxiety but some children experience very real fear and anxiety. If parents and dentists don’t work together early on to reduce/eliminate these fears, it can develop into an actual phobia. At Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry, our office is designed to help children feel safe, relaxed, and comfortable at each of their visits. We work at every visit to minimize fears and create positive dental experiences for children.
Why Do Children Fear the Dentist?
It’s normal to feel a little anxiety when a visit to the dentist is coming up, especially for children. But, to help your child with their dental anxiety, you should understand the reasons they’re feeling anxious.
- Pain. Whether your child has heard about a painful experience that a parent or sibling had or if they’ve had a painful experience themselves, it’s understandable that they’re afraid. Children also often are afraid of needles associated with some dental work.
- Embarrassment. If a child has obvious oral health issues, such as decay, they can feel self-conscious and embarrassed.
- Lack of control. Fear of losing control is related to the fear of pain. A child knows that the big person with the pointy instruments is in charge. If there’s pain or discomfort, the child may very likely feel that he or she has no control over it.
Helping Your Child Overcome Dental Anxiety
As a parent, you can help your child manage and overcome their fears. We’ve included some of our dental anxiety management tips so you can help your children have a positive experience at every dental visit.
- Take them to the dentist early on. It’s recommended children visit a dentist when their first tooth appears or by their first birthday.
- Visit a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists are uniquely trained in caring for children’s oral health, including helping them feel safe and comfortable during visits.
- Let them bring something that comforts them such as a toy or blanket. This helps your child feel more comfortable during their entire visit.
- Speak positively about dental visits. The way you speak about the dentist can directly impact how your child sees the dentist; so it’s important that you don’t speak poorly about dental visits.
- Focus on practicing good oral health habits at home. When children are familiar with brushing, flossing, and the importance of oral health, it helps them have fewer oral health issues and more-positive experiences at the dentist.
- Give positve reniforcment. Before, during, and after dental visits, give your child praise for being able to take the steps required to have a healthy smile.
If you have any questions about pediatric dental anxiety or are ready to schedule your child’s dental visit—contact the Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry team in Lincoln, NE.
How to Teach Your Child the Value of Oral Hygiene
The Importance of Oral Hygiene
As a parent, it’s a very daunting task to teach your child the value of oral hygiene. It is especially difficult when they are in the preschool years and more likely to be distracted and uninterested in what you have to say. The key, according to dental instructor Elizabeth J. Hodges, who often lectures on this topic, is to make teaching fun for both parent and child.
This blog will discuss some ideas on how to keep your child interested in their oral health.
Why It Matters
Keeping good oral hygiene is so important as a child. As a parent, you probably know this, but how do you convince your child that it is important? When you maintain a clean mouth, you will have lesser chances of dental diseases and tooth loss. Good dental hygiene also plays a huge role for aesthetic reasons as it keeps your teeth looking polished and white and also reduces the chance of experiencing bad breath.
Habits to Teach
Regular Dental Checkups
It’s important to take your child to the dentist for regular checkups (at least every six months). This will help them get into the habit of seeing a dentist on a regular basis, which will help them even as they grow into adults.
Eating Healthy Foods
Eating healthy at a young age is so important for children. This will help them get into the habit of eating fruits and vegetables and actually enjoy them. Eating healthy is great for oral health and will keep their teeth stay in good condition
Brushing Twice a Day
Showing your child that it is important to brush their teeth twice a day is a great practice. You can even start this before your child actually starts teething. You can start by wiping their gums with a soft foam, and once they start to grow teeth, you can upgrade to a baby toothbrush. This will help your child to grow up with the familiarity of having their teeth brushed.
Teaching your child at a young age that not only brushing, but also flossing your teeth is another great way to keep their mouth healthy. If this is difficult for you as a parent, you can have your dentist help show them at their regular checkup!
Lead By Example
Your child learns the most from you as their parent. Showing them how important oral hygiene is and practicing good oral hygiene is one of the best ways for them to learn. When you put both your child’s and your own dental hygiene as a top priority, your child will grow up understanding the importance of taking care of your teeth.
It is imperative to teach your child how to take care of their teeth at a young age. We’re always happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have. Give us a call today at 402-420-8020 and we can schedule an appointment.
How To Stop Thumb Sucking Habit
How To Stop Your Child From A Thumb Sucking Habit
Young children and babies learn to suck their thumb as a natural reflex. It becomes innate behavior because they had to suckle their milk to get nutrition when they were young. It is a self-soothing behavior and can stay with them as they grow. At first, this habit may seem harmless, but it can eventually lead to a changing mouth shape, which creates an overbite. If your child doesn’t break this habit before their permanent teeth come in, there is a chance that their palate may need correcting along with braces to straighten their teeth. Dr. Marty at Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry urges parents to take precautions early on to avoid serious dental work as their child gets older.
Ways to Help Your Child Stop The Habit
- Use positive reinforcement. Always praise and reward your child when they don’t suck their thumb – this can be done through reward charts or gentle reminders.
- Keep the hands busy and provide distraction. You won’t be able to keep your child distracted at all times, but this can work in conjunction with other methods. These methods can include arts and crafts, dancing, writing, jewelry making, sports, baking, biking, etc.
- Mask wearing. Due to COVID-19, your child most likely wears a mask when they visit public places. This is an added benefit since your child cannot suck their thumb with a mask on!
- Thumb guards. Thumb guards can be a great solution for your child because it allows them to still engage in daily activities without much difficulty. The sides of the thumb guard have air holes so your child cannot create suction when trying to suck it. Your pediatric dentist may have suggestions as to what brand to use.
Always remember to praise your child and to not ridicule or make them feel bad for this behavior – the damage of doing this can be lifelong and could do nothing to help them. In order for your child to break their thumb-sucking habit, you’ll need to keep it positive and upbeat to encourage them.
At Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry, we work with you and your child to break their thumb-sucking habits. We know that once it becomes a habit, it is very hard to break. With the use of positive reinforcement, healthy distractions, and thumb guards, we can help stop your child from sucking their thumb.
Learn More About Thumb Sucking Habit at Wilderness Station
Learn More About Thumb Sucking Appliances