How to Lessen Anxiety of my Child in Dental Treatment
DO NOT Relay your Anxiety to your Child
Children are sensitive to their environment and they’re very good at picking up on adults’ apprehension.
So, on your child’s trip to the dentist:
- Maintain a Positive Attitude
- Encourage ‘Brave Behavior’
- Do not Sensitise them. ‘Act as Usual.’
- Do not Make the appointment a ‘Special Event’
- Do not Make Visiting a Dentist Look Like a Punishment
Unless the visit is an emergency, take the time to feed your child to avoid hunger meltdowns.
Be a ‘Brave Model’ for Them
Children tend to imitate parents.
If you find your child visibly nervous, you can bring them in to watch your dental visit first. This can help demystify the process and make it predictable and less stressful for them.
You can also:
- Dress them comfortably
- Bring a comfort object (Favorited Toy or Blanket)
- Ask older siblings to stay in the waiting area
Create Child-Friendly Environment
Avoid use of alarming questions like “Does it hurt?” or words like ‘drill’ and ‘needle’.
For young children, use gentle, non-scary language, appropriate to the child’s comprehension level.
Depending on their age, you may use child-friendly language:
Probe: Tooth counter
Gauze: Tooth pillow
Drill: Tooth sweeper
Cavity: Sugar bugs
Injection: Mozzie bite
Anesthetic: Sleepy juice
Syringe: Sleepy juice Spray
Numb: In sleep
Suction: Mr thirsty
If Your Child is Anxious about Dental Treatment
Provide them with positive reinforcement:
- Stay Calm Yourself
- Be a ‘Passive Observer’
- Allow the Dentist to Capture your Child’s Full Attention
The dentist will talk about the fact that their mouth will feel so much better once the problem is fixed.
It is stressful for a child if several adults give directions at the same time.
Please stay calm and passive during the treatment.
To make your child feel comfortable, and give them some control, the dentist may allow your child to explore dental instruments.
Passive Parental Presence
Children may fuss during a dental visit but you may be surprised how accepting they can be.
Parents can accompany children in the treatment room however, some children do better when parents stay passive during the treatment.
According to studies, children sense and absorb parents’ anxiety which affects their ability to tolerate treatment. Passive parental presence does not make a child’s behaviour worse. However, a direct communication between parent and child during treatment may create anxiety for the child.