Dental anxiety and dental phobia is an issue for a good percentage of the population. It can disrupt our lives and our health in many ways. The sad truth is many parents pass on their fear of the dentist to their children without even realizing it. Overcoming the fear is possible with the right dentist and the right approach.
Why Do Kids Fear The Dentist?
Most kids are fearful of the unknown. Whether it be the dark, what lurks in the closet, or what their parents have taught them to fear. The first visit to the dentist should be done around age 1-3. The first appointment should be simple and fun. It is better to not wait for problems that need further treatment. Most of us would not be afraid of an oral exam, x-rays and a cleaning. Unfortunately, many parents are unaware of this and wait until the child is older or has a dental issues that need to be addressed immediately. Children are also super perceptive of their surroundings and are easily influenced by their parents. Therefore the fears can be passed on down to the kids. If a parent is afraid and openly shows it, a child will see that and feel the same way. A positive outlook on dental care, a caring dentist, and at home good oral habits and diet ,will lead to a child free of dental issue.
Parental Supervision Is Important
Taking care of oneself can be a positive experience if educated properly on the benefits. Recent research has shown maintaining good dental care can keep our overall bodies healthy. Parents need to play an active role in their child’s dental health. That includes monitoring their child’s brushing in the morning and evenings until the child is comfortable and confident to do it on their own.
Most kids, will choose to do the fun activity over the boring one. If the task is not fun it will be rushed through or avoided all together. This directly applies to how well children brush and take care of their teeth. This is one area where kids definitely need our guidance to maintain a healthy smile.
It is recommended that you brush 2x per day for a minimum of two minutes each time. Two minutes can feel like forever for a child. To get your child to brush and floss for the proper time, try making a game out it. Set a timer for two minutes and challenge your child to brush until the timer goes off, or sing songs while brushing. Cute, fun toothbrushes are in stores everywhere. Choose one that’s small enough for your child to hold comfortably by his or herself, with a small, rounded head and very soft, polished bristles. An electric toothbrush is also recommended for little ones. An electric toothbrush makes it easier to use and makes them feel like big grown ups. Whichever brush they choose it should be replaced every few months, particularly for preschoolers who tend to chew while they brush. For babies, a soft finger toothbrush, or wet wash cloth are easiest to use for you and them. Some children’s toothbrushes also have lights that flash or music that plays which serves as a built-in timer. Set the timer again for two minutes for flossing. There are also fun flossers that make it easier to do the best job possible. Another tip would be to brush with your child — Stand side-by-side in front of the bathroom mirror and brush together. Have fun. Let your child mimic your brushing technique. Another helpful tool is the use of a plaque disclosing solution. This solution will allow you and them to see where the plaque is before brushing and what was missed after brushing. Then you can “help” them remove the last of the plaque. Once the color is gone, the plaque is too! The entire process should take just a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes at bedtime.
Tips To Avoid Dental Anxiety In Children
-Introduction To Dentist. Set up a meet and greet appointment with your dentist. Your child can tour the office meet the staff and dentist. Get comfortable in the surroundings so it is not as much of an unknown to them. Another good way to get them familiar is have them go to the dentist with an older sibling or you and watch what happens. This takes away the fear of the unknown.
-Use Positive Words And Actions. Talking positively about your dentist and your own dental care will instill comfort in your children. It will allow them to relax further.
-Set Up A Rewards System. Encourage brushing and flossing and doing well at dental appointments by offering up a special prize over time. Kids love rewards. Establish a reward your child will earn for having a perfect dental examination, such as that new video game or doll they may have been wanting. Make sure they understand that brushing, flossing, and limiting sweets are all ways to reach their goal. You can even tape a photo of the reward to the bathroom mirror for daily reinforcement. Tell your dentist about the reward system, so he or she can also encourage your child at each checkup. If you are still finding cavities, diet may need to be looked at more closely, and a fluoride rinse may need to be added into the routine. Remember to schedule your child’s dental checkups every six months. Very important to stay on schedule and go when needed. You are laying the foundation for your child’s oral health and general health throughout life.
-Praise Your Child. Give them encouragement by telling them they are doing great and keep up the good work. This will encourage them to continue their healthy habits into the adulthood.
-Be A Good Teacher. It is important for children to know the Why and How of things. Same goes with dental care. If they are simply forced to do it without reason they will fight you. If they realize it is for their benefit or it is fun they will choose to do it. Be sure to explain the importance of brushing and flossing in simple terms kids can understand. For example: “Flossing is important because it removes cookies and food left between your teeth. Do you want tooth bugs stuck in between your teeth?” At your child’s next dental examination, ask your dentist to reinforce the proper brushing and flossing techniques.
-Find A Dentist That Works Well With Children. Not all dentists work well with children. It has become very commonplace to go see a pediatric dentist for the children and a separate one for the parents. This does not have to be the case. There are many family dentists who love seeing children in their practice as well. This makes it easier to schedule appointments as a family and also allows your children to see the positive experiences you are having. With the right dental team, dentistry can be an enjoyable experience.
Dental Anxiety Conclusion
Dentistry can be a challenging experience for children and adults. It does not need to be that way. With proper at home care and routine dental visits it can be a positive experience for the entire family.
Dental phobia and dental anxiety is a serious issue affecting over 35 million Americans alone. Many people have such an overwhelming fear of dental care that they deal with constant pain and discomfort. Research has shown a definite body/mouth connection. Not maintaining good dental care can have dramatic negative effects on your overall health and well being. In recent years sedation dentistry has become quite popular, but sleeping through dental treatment does not allow you to develop the tools to overcome dental phobia and dental anxiety in a healthy manageable way. Common dental phobias include fear of dental pain, loss of control, and fear of needles or injections.
Top Methods To Cope With Dental Anxiety
Fortunately, both dental anxiety and dental phobia can be overcome with some work from both you and your dentist. You should never let fear stop you from seeking regular dental care. With proper steps taken by patient and dentist, and some patience, those fears will minimize so that you can not only seek treatment, but actually feel comfortable in the dental office. Some of the top methods for coping with dental anxiety and dental phobia include:
-Communication – For many, the dental phobia began as a child. A dentist might have scolded or talked down to their younger patients, making them feel like they did not have a voice in their treatment or even when it was uncomfortable for them. Even adults have reported these similar feelings, where they feel they might be ridiculed for being afraid. Open lines of communication can give back a full sense of control over your dental treatment. This control helps to decrease the feeling of helplessness. Being a part of the decision making on treatment, knowing what to expect, and knowing if you feel uncomfortable your dentist will stop, can make any dental patient feel better. Communication and control can be the differentiating factor between those suffering from dental phobia and dental anxiety, and those who have found a way to work past it. A good tip is, if you are anxious about something just come right out and talk to the dentist about it.
-“Talk” with your hands. Most dentists will give their patients hand signals to communicate. This is very important for those suffering from dental phobia. This gives the patients an increased control knowing the dentist can till listen to them while dental care is ongoing.
-Distractions – Developing the ability to take control of your mind and allow yourself to be distracted from the dental treatment. The top ways to achieve distraction are:
1) meditation - a relaxation of mind and body musculature.
2) audio distraction - listening to music, or the voice of your dentist while they talk you through the process with casual conversation. Even the sound of a soothing voice can lower anxiety levels. A good tip is to listen to an audio book while undergoing treatment. This will engage your ears and your mind to distract you from the task at hand.
3) visual distraction– watching television or a movie, even staring at a relaxing picture during dental treatment. For many, wearing headphones can help to block out much of the dental noises that increase their anxiety, listening to a personal story about the dentist, visualizing a relaxing setting, and muscle relaxation can make the experience much more tolerable and possibly even enjoyable!
-Be Prepared - Ask your dentist in advance what you can expect during your visit and how procedures, such as injections, are handled. Some may enjoy hearing a play by play and others will not. Talk it over with your dentist when going through your initial dental examination.
-Muscle Relaxation Techniques - The key here is to place focus on your body parts, relaxing them one at a time. You can start with your toes or hands and work your way across your body, squeezing then relaxing each area of your body progressively. This removes your focus on the dental care and places it on your body achieving the goal of relaxing and calming yourself. Try squeezing a stress ball in 1 or both hands.
-Take A Mini Vacation In Your Mind! - To help ease your nerves and control pain during dental treatment, imagine yourself in a relaxing, enjoyable setting. For example, visualize calming colors or scenes such as the ocean, think about the sound of the waves as you relax on your favorite beach or, if you enjoy hiking, imagine yourself walking along a trail next to a river. The more detail you add to the image, the less focused you will be on the dental procedure. This technique takes practice initially, but once you gain confidence in yourself and your dentist it will get easier to do. If you find that your mind drifts away from your image, gently turn your attention back to the scene you created. Try practicing meditation with visualization at home before your appointment when you feel stressed about upcoming dental treatment.
-Breathing Exercises - This is a great technique for your drive over to the dental office, or while waiting for your appointment. Deep breathing can be a great technique to relax your mind and body prior to dental work. By taking in slow, deep breaths, the oxygen flow will have a calming effect on your entire body. Remember, slow and deep, NOT short and fast, as this can cause you to hyperventilate.
-Take Frequent Breaks. Patients may need to take breaks during dental procedures, when anxiety builds up or they start to feel claustrophobic. If you feel like you need a break, let your dentist know and he/she will gladly stop to give you the time and space necessary.
-Acupuncture/Acupressure - Acupuncture/acupressure have many benefits for patients who are dentally anxious. For this to be fully effective, the acupuncture should be completed as close to the dental appointment as possible, while some acupressure can be done during the dental appointment. This will not work for all patients but it has been a successful technique for many in attempting to overcome dental phobia and dental anxiety.
The key to overcoming and coping with your dental fear is to remember that you are not alone. If you choose the right dentist and dental team, they will be with you every step of the way, guiding you to help you overcome your fears. In the beginning it may seem insurmountable but one step and one appointment at a time, and the visits become easier and easier. You might actually begin to wonder why you didn’t do this earlier. Do not let dental phobia prevent you from being healthy in all aspects of your life. Take control of your health today!
Dr. Marielaina Perrone DDS’s advanced professional training and extensive dentistry experience translate into greater confidence and convenience for your entire family. Complete dental care right here in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV, utilizing the latest dental advancements and materials in family, cosmetic, and implant dentistry. Dr. Marielaina Perrone believes in a comprehensive approach to restorative and cosmetic dentistry, an approach that fully integrates health, comfort, and beauty.
“The patient is always our first priority throughout dental care and we strive to give you something to smile about after every visit.”
Whether you need dental care for periodontal disease or dental implants to replace missing teeth, you and your smile will always be the center of attention for Henderson dentist Dr Marielaina Perrone! We are a full service dental care practice that specializes in cosmetic dentistry and relaxation dentistry services, dental implants (including all on 4 dental implants in one day!), TMJ disorder treatment, periodontal disease treatment, teeth whitening, porcelain crowns and porcelain veneers, and other restorative dental care. Having a flawless, natural-looking smile changes the way people think and feel about themselves. It gives them a boost of self confidence, allowing them to smile more, feel more outgoing, and new opportunities suddenly start to come their way.
Henderson And Las Vegas, Nevada
We would love the opportunity to show you what truly exceptional family, cosmetic, and implant dental care and service is all about. Our dental care includessleep apnea appliances, treatment and management of dental phobia, and pediatric dentistry. Las Vegas and Henderson dentist Dr. Perrone’s ultimate goal is to provide our patients with the highest quality dental care that not only looks beautiful but that lasts a lifetime. We are always very happy to have new patients become part of our family. We thank you for taking the time to visit us on the internet, and hope that we will have the pleasure of seeing you sometime soon at our office in Henderson, NV. Proudly serving the surrounding areas including Las Vegas, Boulder City, and Summerlin.
For many choosing a dentist can be one of the most difficult things to do in life. It is also one of the most important decisions you can make for your health. Below are a few of the things to consider when choosing a new dentist for you and your family.
Choosing The Best Dentist For You
-Clinical Experience. It is important to consider a dentist’s professional background before making an appointment. Knowing what school a dentist went to, what their area of expertise is and what other credentials they might have can help you decide if a certain dentist is right for you. Usually, this information is quite easy to find and located on a dentist’s website. The American Dental Association (ADA) only recognized 9 areas of dentistry that a dentist can specialize in. These are as follows: Endodontics (Root Canal Therapy), Periodontics (treatment of periodontal disease), Pediatric (dentistry for children), Prosthodontics (Advanced Crown/Bridge and Dentures), Oral and Maxillofacial pathologym Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, and Dental Public Health. A general dentist will have knowledge of all of these areas but may choose to take advanced classes in any of these areas to improve care.
-Patient Reviews. With the widespread use of the internet this can be easily found. Many dentists have profiles on a wide range of sites where patients can leave feedback for the dentist but also for prospective new patients. It is important to note the extremes of reviews. If a dentist only has a handful of reviews it is not a very good sample. But once the reviews build up it is easier to get a good overall picture of other patients experiences and what you can expect from your experience.
-Services Offered. It is important to note the dental services offered by the prospective dentist. If you know the type of dental work you need or want, then you need to find a dentist with the experience and knowledge to fit your needs. Some general dentists do not do certain procedures (like teeth extractions or root canal therapy) while others have the skills to cover more services in office. It is important to note a referral to a specialist is not a bad thing. Even the most experienced and skilled dentist will refer patients usually for the patients comfort and to place them in the best hands available for the dental issue.
-Gentle, Comfortable Dental Care. For many patients, dental fear is a real part of their lives. Finding the right dentist can make the difference between seeking care and avoiding it. Not all dentists are trained nor have the ability to handle patients with real dental fear.
As stated earlier finding the right dentist can be difficult but with the steps outlined above it might make it a little easier. Always ask friends and family members for recommendations, it is a good place to start researching a new dentist.