Tips to help your child cope with dental anxiety.

Why is my child nervous about going to the dentist?

Many people – especially children – worry about going to the dentist. They may be very nervous and may even feel sick to their stomach. Some children become so nervous that they refuse to go. But this can lead to serious problems, including infected gums and teeth, difficulty chewing and lack of self-confidence because of bad teeth or bad breath.

To help children overcome dental anxiety, it's helpful to understand why they may be nervous. Reasons include:

  • Having had a painful or bad experience at the dentist.
  • Smells and sounds of the office.
  • Feeling helpless or out of control.
  • Being embarrassed about the condition of their teeth.
  • Hearing about others' bad experiences at the dentist.
  • Fear of the unknown.

How can I help relieve my child's dental anxiety?

To help children and youth feel less nervous about visiting the dentist, try these tips:

  • Tell the dentist your child is nervous, and try to explain why. This way the dentist can do everything possible to put them at ease.
  • Ask your dentist to explain to your child what is going to happen and why.
  • Make your child's dental visit at a time when they are not rushed or under pressure.
  • Use distraction such as using a device with music or a movie and headphones.
  • Teach your child to use hand signals to communicate pain, discomfort or the need for a break.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization.
  • If you talk to the dentist and feel that he or she is not listening or not making an effort to help your child feel at ease, try another dentist. There are many dental practices that specialize in children's dentistry.

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