Making dentist visits an anxiety-free experience for kids

February is National Children\’s Dental Health Month. For this occasion, we turned over our blog to our resident Kids Expert.

By Mojo The Monkey
Tecumseh Ridge Dental’s Mascot and in charge of anxiety-free visits to the dentist

Let me tell you about myself. I am Mojo, and I am 7. That’s young for humans, but I am a wise monkey with lots of dental smarts,  and have been working with Dr. Wheatley for years now. Today, I will be telling you all about how to make a trip to the dentist fun for kids.

Countless people suffer from fear of the dentist. Unfortunately, that often starts early – and often, it is neither the dentist’s nor the child’s fault. If lifelong good oral health is a goal for you and your children, here are some tips for an anxiety-free first checkup.

1. Acknowledge that Dental Anxiety is Real

For some people who are not worried about dental visits, it makes no sense that somebody could be afraid of the dentist. But it is a real condition. However, avoiding the dentist can result in worsening dental disease, a greater need for emergency care, or more complex treatment. It can also feed the underlying problem of dental anxiety. Regular dental checkups, cleanings, and screening X-rays can prevent dental disease and help the dentist find any issues early so that more uncomplicated and less invasive treatments are needed. But most importantly, if you are dealing with a loved-one with dental anxiety, don’t dismiss their fear, but instead, help them overcome it. At Tecumseh Ridge Dental, we try to make sure everybody feels relaxed and comfortable.

2. Please Talk about the Dentist Visit like it is Fun

…Because it will be when all involved have the right attitude about it. Tell your child what to expect, but avoid language like “It won’t hurt” because all they will hear is “What? There is a 3 percent chance of pain!” Tell them about all the fun aspects of healthy teeth and talk to them about why oral health is so important.

3. Go to a Dentist that likes Working with Children 

Just because someone has been your dentist for 20 years doesn’t make him a good fit for working with kids. When choosing a dental practice, look for an office that makes children feel comfortable. A pediatric dentist is a great option, but any family dentist that understands that children are not merely smaller version of adults will help. A good dentist has lots of tricks to keep kids occupied while they get their work done. At Tecumseh Ridge Dental, kids can choose their favorite music to be played or bring their favorite stuffed animal. They get to meet me, Mojo, and of course, there are stickers for our youngest patients. Dr. Wheatley has three daughters and understands that kids may be nervous going to see a dentist.

4. Sometimes Parents Need to Exit

For many kids, it works really well to have their mom or dad sitting with them. In some cases, parents may contribute to the anxiety. Sometimes sitting outside the room is more effective. Some kids may act out with their parents present, but when they were alone with the hygienist and dentist, they behave maturely and cooperate better. 

5. Prep the Dentist for Your Child

Tell your dentist all about your child. A few personal things that they can use to build a rapport with the child can go a long way. Any medical or personal history may be helpful, such as an overactive gag reflex, dental anxiety, fear of shots, or bad experiences at other dentists or medical professionals. 

When it comes to my children, healthy teeth have always been a priority. That’s why we work very hard to make sure children have positive dental visits and develop trust in their dental practice. There is no reason any child should fear the dentist’s chair. Need to know more? Here is everything you need to know about Pediatric Dentistry.

Signing off,

Your Kid-Expert Mojo