Visiting the dentist can be scary for adults and kids alike. At Sand Springs Family Dentistry, Dr. Whitney helps patients cope with dental anxiety by listening and acknowledging your child’s fears. We recognize that dentists are commonly associated with pain and anxiety. Several factors contribute to a child’s fear of the dentist, but it is crucial for a child to overcome their fears. Dental check-ups are essential to help prevent tooth decay.
How to Overcome Children’s Fears
- The earlier a child visits the dentist, the better.
- Before the first dentist appointment, play pretend with your child to be the dentist and the patient.
- Tell your child about the visits but limit the amount of details given. Answer any questions with simple, to-the-point answers. Let the dentist answer more complex or detailed questions.
- Avoid the use of words like “hurt” or “shot” or “painful.”
- Don’t tell your child about an unpleasant dental experience that you’ve had.
- Stress to your child how important it is to maintain healthy teeth and gums and that the dentist is a friendly doctor whose job it is to help do this.
Why It’s Important
Tooth Decay: While cavities can develop slowly, they happen in kids more often than parents realize. In fact, 40% of kids between the ages of two and five have at least one cavity. It’s difficult to detect a cavity with the naked eye in its early stages. That’s why it’s important to keep up with regular dental cleanings. If a cavity is caught early, a filling will treat it. In more severe cases, a pediatric crown may be necessary.
Tooth Sensitivity: Every tooth is covered by a thin layer of tooth enamel which protects its bacteria. If that enamel is too thin or wears away, it leaves the tooth vulnerable to decay. It also makes it sensitive to cold and heat. Primary teeth have thinner enamel than permanent teeth, so kids are especially prone to sensitivity.
Early Gum Disease: While gum disease affects adults more frequently, it can happen to kids as well. If your child’s gums are red and swollen, you need to treat the gum disease right away to prevent more serious problems in the future.
Tooth Misalignment: Dental misalignment can be inherited or it can happen naturally without explanation. In some cases, extended thumb sucking, frequent use of a pacifier after the age of 3, prolonged use of bottle feeding in early childhood can cause misalignment.
Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy
The key to nearly all of the issues above is prevention. Keeping up with your child’s oral health at home and consistent cleanings will keep dental problems to a minimum and set up your child for a healthier future. If it’s time for your child’s next dental visit, schedule your next appoint with Dr. Whitney at Sand Springs Family Dentistry.