Filed under: Dental
It’s important for kids to establish good dental health habits early on, but their fears of visiting the dentist sometimes can get in the way. Still, you can help manage kids’ dental anxieties by talking through worries and explaining upcoming dental procedures.
Kids who don’t go to the dentist are more likely to experience pain, tooth loss, and cavities. The good news is regular dental visits can prevent these and other oral health issues.
Many parents struggle to figure out how to help their anxious little ones feel more comfortable. When kids think their oral health is bad, they also tend to get more anxious about visiting the dentist. Still, there are things you can do to lessen your child’s worry when a dental appointment approaches.
“Coach” your kids’ emotions to help them manage fears before the visit. Validate your child’s worries by saying something such as, “It seems you’re very concerned about what it will be like to go to the dentist tomorrow.” Let your child talk about his or her feelings. And ask her or him why it might be important to visit the dentist. Reassure your child if she or he has good oral health and suggest that the appointment is to make sure nothing goes wrong in the future.
Kids can benefit from age-appropriate, realistic explanations about what to expect on their next visit. Discuss what might help him or her feel calmer and more comfortable. Let your child offer ideas first. If needed, encourage him or her to bring a favorite stuffed toy or suggest doing a fun activity afterwards, so you both have something to look forward to. Distractions, such as watching cartoons during his or her appointment, also can help relieve your child’s anxieties. And gently remind your child how the dentist can help teeth and smiles stay strong and healthy.
At home, make your kids’ oral health a priority by getting into a routine of brushing and flossing from a young age too. Doing so can help prevent tooth decay and illnesses caused by bacteria buildup in the mouth.
Good oral health means more than just brushing your teeth. Flossing and brushing your teeth at the gumline, contact areas, tongue, and any trouble areas your dentist or hygienist has pointed out—plus brushing after sugary snacks or beverages—are all important to good oral health. According to the Army Public Health Command, poor oral health can negatively impact training, mobilization, and operations. Visit the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Mouth Healthy website for more oral health information, tips, and news for adults and children.