3 Ways Parents Can Help Children With Dental Phobia

Dental Phobia Many of us will likely remember a fear of going to the dentist. Most adults still aren’t crazy about the idea of someone putting their hands in their mouth — so why would kids react any better?

Dental phobia among children can have real consequences. The more a parent postpones dental visits, the more likely that child will face consequences to their oral hygiene.

But fear not, dear parents! At Bryan Johnson Orthodontics, we can offer a few strategies to help your child overcome their dental phobia and get the treatment they need.

Make Time to Communicate

It might sound obvious, but with our busy modern lives, it’s easy to forget the importance of communication. Kids need space and time to express themselves — just like the rest of us.

The first thing parents can do is simply start a dialogue with their children, asking them to talk about their fears. With just a few minutes, children can often feel better just by sharing their anxiety with a trusted family member.

Once parents have listened attentively, they can explain why the dentist is important. It’s important to do this with age-appropriate language. Try watching some educational videos together on YouTube, or even picking up a children’s book.

Don’t Forget the Distractions

Any parent with a few years of experience knows that a coloring book can go a long way.

Okay, so maybe an iPad is a bit more common these days, but the fundamental purpose remains the same. Distractions from dental work offer a powerful way to help children cope with stress and get through a given procedure as fast as possible.

Options for this could include headphones with calming music or audio. If a television isn’t available, an iPad could serve as an effective substitute, playing the child’s favorite show (which they could also listen to with headphones). Stress-relief toys that allow the child to vent their fear and frustration can help, too.

Positive Reinforcement

There’s a reason so many dental offices often have bowls of candy at the front desk.

Small rewards both before and after a dental visit give kids something to look forward to. As many of us learned from Mary Poppins: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

But candy isn’t the only possible incentive. Other ideas could include fun activities, like a trip to the park, mall or video game store. Over time, this strategy creates positive associations with the dental office.

Schedule a Consultation

It takes patience and understanding to overcome children’s dental phobia. But with a little support, even the most fearful child can gain a positive attitude — and a healthy smile.

Located in Salem, OR, Bryan Johnson Orthodontics can help. If you’ve got a child in need of special care, call us at 503-362-9548 to arrange an appointment. For more details, feel free to contact us online.

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