Dentistry, Science & Technology

Children and the dentist – 4 ways to best reassure them

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With the term “odontophobia” we refer to a phenomenon of extreme fear of dentists and dental care, both for children and adults. Exposure to, observation, or even naming dentist-related topics usually produce a strong anxiety reaction. Symptoms such as sweating, tachycardia, hyperventilation, nausea, dry mouth or hypersalivation, shortness of breath, tremors and other physiological symptoms typical of anxiety and panic have been observed.

This intense reaction, combined with the frequent avoidance of the phobic stimulus, can come to jeopardize the life of those affected and cause extreme discomfort. Odontophobia is a real disorder recognized by the World Health Organization and affects a percentage that varies between 15% and 20% of the world population.

If visits to the dentist are already torture for many adults, let’s imagine for children, who feel anxiety and fear even more often. To make the experience as pleasant as possible, it’s important that dentists know how to interact with their young patients. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best practices to help children have a positive experience at the dentist.

Preparation

Preparation is key to ensuring a positive experience at the dentist. The dentist should provide parents with the necessary information in advance so children know what to expect during the visit. For example, your dentist can explain what you will do during your visit, how you will use your tools, and why it is important to maintain good oral hygiene. Additionally, the dentist should answer questions from children and parents, to help allay any worries or anxieties. This will help your child feel more comfortable and confident during the visit.

Communication

Communication is key to creating a relaxed and comfortable environment for your child. The dentist should speak to the child in simple, clear language, using words that the child can understand. Furthermore, the dentist should use a reassuring tone of voice, which helps to calm any anxieties or fears. The dentist should also listen carefully to the child and the parents to understand their concerns and needs. This will help build a trusting relationship between the dentist and the child, which is crucial for a successful visit to the dentist.

Engagement

Involving the child during the visit can help distract the child’s attention from the dentist’s proceedings. For example, the dentist may ask your child to help hold the tools or to explain what she is doing. This way, the child will feel they have an active role in the visit and may be less anxious. In addition, the dentist can use books or toys to help distract the child during the visit. This can help create a relaxed and comfortable environment for your child.

Rewards and incentives

Rewarding your child at the end of the visit can help maintain a positive experience at the dentist. For example, the dentist may give your child a sticker or toy, or praise your child for your cooperation during the visit. Furthermore, the dentist can encourage the child to maintain good oral hygiene, explaining the importance of dental care and suggesting ways to do it in a fun way. This can help create healthy habits from a young age that will last a lifetime.

Ultimately, it is important for a dentist to reassure younger patients. By doing so, their fear will disappear and they will be able to start taking care of their oral health from an early age.

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