1) What tips do you have for parents to prepare their child for their first trip to the dentist?
Emphasize the positive aspects of dental visits, i.e., fresh breath and clean teeth. It’s important to make it a positive experience; make it fun! Rewards are a great way to motivate a child.
2) At what age do you suggest parents bring a child in for their first visit?
3) What are the biggest mistakes parents can make to increase a child’s dental anxiety?
It is extremely important not to relate a parent’s prior negative experiences. If a parent has any dental anxiety, they should be cautious when they speak of the dentist not to pass their fear down to the child. Never use force or threats because they can have long-lasting negative effects.
4) What are the most important things a dentist can do to ease a child’s fears?
Use positive reinforcement. Start with short easy visits, especially if there is nothing serious going on like pain or swelling. It’s alright if at the first visit all you do is talk because you can build up to longer appointments. This will enable visits and the child will develop into a great patient. In addition, a dentist should recognize the instinctive things that can make a child apprehensive. Minimalize the visualization of any “scary” objects, this could be a metal instrument. Children are individuals and may have different reactions to different to stimuli such as taste, smells or sounds. A dentist should listen and understand the patients’ individual needs.
5) What steps should be taken when a child begins to show signs of severe dental anxiety?
Make sure you find the right dental practice. An office that understands dental anxiety, prioritizes patient comfort and utilizes modern technology to help a child overcome their anxiety. One great example of modern dental technology is the Carivu. This compact device assists in the detection of cavities and cracks and is especially helpful with children that have difficulty with X-rays. It works by using a transillumination technology that makes the enamel appear transparent. Another suggestion is to allow the child to bring a security blanket or stuffed animal to the appointment.
Our NYC office provides many solutions for people with a variety of unique dental needs. Our entire team is dedicated to helping people with dental phobia and dental anxiety, including children. Your child has a place to go for exceptional dental care. Please don’t hesitate to call with any questions and we’ll work together to provide a comfortable dental experience for your child.