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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 come in many forms. Anxiety may cause you to be slightly apprehensive to extremely frightened at the thought of visiting the dentist. A

Dental Phobia Marielaina Perrone DDS

Dental Phobia Can Be Overcome!

phobia, may cause a paralyzing fear that overtakes your entire body. Whichever form, dental phobia or dental anxiety, can be very difficult to overcome. Inability to have regular dental and health care can lead to health issues. Numerous studies have linked diabetes, alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and even cancer to poor oral health. It is imperative to maintain a healthy mouth to keep our bodies happy and healthy. So, the question becomes, can dental phobia be overcome?

Dental Phobia Is A Learned Fear

There has been significant research to show that dental phobia and dental anxiety are linked to life experiences. These experiences can be direct or indirect.

-Direct experiences - are the most common way for people to develop a dental phobia or dental anxiety. Many people report fearing the dentist due to a prior traumatic or painful dental experience. However, it is often the dentist themselves who induce the dental phobia. During the many studies, patients report it was not the dental procedure that ultimately causes their fear. Instead it was the dentist’s attitude towards them. Dentists who were perceived as impersonal, uncaring, or even cold were found to be the root cause of the direct experience dental phobia. An interesting note from these dental phobia studies was, that patients who experienced a painful or traumatic treatment but had a caring dentist, failed to develop a dental phobia. This leads us to believe that dental phobia is a learned trait and can be overcome.

-Indirect Experiences - These can include:

Parental/Peer Influence – Dental phobia can develop from hearing about your parents, siblings, friends, bad experiences or their negative views on going to the dentist.

Media Influence – Many movies like to poke fun at the dentist in good and bad ways. A good example is the dentist in little shop of horrors whereby dentistry is portrayed in  a sadistic way. This extreme visual can be quite unsettling, and emotional. The fear can readily be instilled, and dental phobia can develop.

Dental Phobia Diagnosis

Dental phobia can often times be very easy to diagnose. All you have to do is ask a patient and they can tell you how they feel about the dentist. It usually produces a very profound reaction if they truly have a dental phobia. The usual method for diagnosing dental phobia is the use of a scale to assess the level of dental phobia or dental anxiety. The scale consists of a series of questions and based on the answers the dentist can assess the level of your dental phobia. Common questions on the scale include:

Dental Phobia Marielaina Perrone DDS

Unlearn Your Dental Phobia!!

-While waiting in the reception area of the dental office, do you feel nervous about the visit?

-Have you had a prior dental experience that was unpleasant?

-While in the dental chair, do you feel uneasy and anxious?

-Do you feel embarrassed that the dentist will say you have the worst mouth they have ever seen?

These questions will give your dentist an assessment of what you are afraid of. Further questioning will help narrow down the fears and their triggers, enabling the dentist to work with you to help slowly overcome those fears.

Breaking The Dental Phobia Hold On You

Overcoming dental phobia can be a very difficult proposition, there is work and time involved for both you and your dentist. The first step is believing in yourself, and your dentist.The second is, feeling that it is possible, and truly wanting to try and overcome it. Dental phobia is a learned behavior and can be overcome with hard work and the desire to do so. The biggest key to overcoming dental phobia is to find the right dentist for you. One who will always keep an open line of communication, is extremely important. This will allow you to express yourself and your emotions before, during, and after treatment.

-Feeling of Control -  A sense of control is your right as a dental patient. Understanding this, is key to confidence. Knowing that you can stop treatment as often , and whenever you want can be very freeing.The most common signal is simply raising your left hand to alert the dentist and staff of your need to communicate. A system should be established allowing you to stop for any reason, whether it be because you need more anesthesia, want to rinse out, or simply need a break.You should be part of the process of developing a treatment plan as well as have the ability to fully understand the treatment being offered and why it is needed. You need to be honest with your dentist and yourself regarding how much treatment you can tolerate initially. As time moves on, you will build confidence in yourself as well as increased trust in the dentist and staff treating you. Over time, the type and length of the appointments can be increased. You will be amazed how long you will be able to sit in the chair when it is your choice!

-Feeling Embarrassed or Self Conscious - If you have been ridiculed in the past for your behavior or if you are embarrassed by your present dental condition caused by your neglect, please express yourself honestly and give your dentist a chance to understand your concerns and show you that they care. Please know, that most dentists

Dental Phobia Marielaina Perrone DDS

Free Yourself Of Your Dental Phobia

do care, and want to treat you with the respect that you deserve. These feelings do need to be addressed, and talked through, so that you can begin to leave them behind.

-Use Of Relaxation Techniques - If you feel tense in the chair, the easiest way to relax is through forms of physical relaxation. A relaxed body promotes a clear and relaxed mind. The human body cannot be physically relaxed and mentally anxious at the same time! The brain won’t process these feelings simultaneously. Physical relaxation methods are easier to accomplish at first as compared to cognitive ones, so practice forms of physical relaxation first. Light meditation methods and music work very well. Light conscious sedation, such as valium, is a great way to start.

Examples of physical relaxation are Diaphragmatic Breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and various methods taught in yoga . If you induce relaxation in the presence of the stimuli that normally induces your fears (the dental environment), the fear response will be greatly diminished over multiple exposures and you will gradually desensitize yourself to these fears as you build confidence. The memories of traumatic visits will be replaced with more innocuous ones and this less threatening environment coupled with your relaxation methods will help you eliminate your dental phobia.

Repetition. The simple process of repeat appointments, will make you feel more comfortable. As you learn what to expect, and realize that you are in control of the appointment, you will be able to manage more time in the chair. Remember not to wait too long between appointments or to reschedule unless an emergency arises. Merely coming to the office and not having treatment that day is better than canceling.

-Distraction - As you get more comfortable in the dental environment, you can use distraction. The use of an ipod with your favorite music is a common technique. It is only suggested to utilize distraction techniques once you have established some trust and confidence, because your ability to communicate will be decreased, although it is easy to communicate by using your pre-established hand signals.

-Predictable Pain Control - Modern dentistry has many new techniques with regards to the administration of local anesthetics to help block pain. There are many people who have differences in their anatomy that do require more individualized techniques in order to predictably achieve proper local anesthesia. This variation must be respected and communicated to your dentist. The needle itself is generally the minor cause of discomfort, in fact, it is the pressure and volume of the fluids being injected that causes the major discomfort. Therefore, all injections should be given slowly. There are also great differences in the types of tissue in various locations, anatomically and from person to person, that must be considered when administering injections. There are even computer-controlled machines that are now available to standardize the injection process and make it more predictable than the conventional hand-held syringe.

Conclusion

Dental phobia and dental anxiety can be overcome! With proper guidance, trust, patience, dedication, and communication, dental phobia can be beaten. Do not allow your health to be held hostage by your fears. You can live a longer, happier, and healthier life, free of dental fear. Take that first step and find a dentist that understands dental fear, and make an appointment for a consult. Dental phobia and dental anxiety can be overcome!

 

Dental care for children is one of the most important events in a child’s development. Not only will good dental care and experiences set the tone for an entire life of dental Pediatric Dentistry Marielaina Perrone DDScare but also keep them healthy and happy. The first dental visit is an extremely important step in a child’s life.

Best Age For First Visit?

The ideal time for a child’s first dental visit is about 6 months after the first tooth eruption, or up to 2 years old. The reason for this timing is to give the dentist a chance to assess development of the child’s mouth as well as to dispense dental hygiene instructions, help with teething, thumb sucking, and pacifier sucking issues to the parents. Dental issues, and tooth decay can start early, so it is best to see the dentist sooner than later.

So What happens at the first visit?

The first dental visit is usually quite short and probably will not involve any treatment. This visit is usually designed as a meet and greet in a non threatening and very friendly way. Usually the child will sit in the parents lap, and experience a ” tell, show, do” visit. This is where the dentist talks to the child , shows the instruments, lets them touch things, and does a limited dental examination. Depending on the dentist and child, parents may or may not be asked to wait outside. Each child, and parent will be different in how they handle being at the dentist.

During the dental examination, your dentist will check all of your child’s existing teeth for tooth decay, examine your child’s bite, and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues. If necessary, the dentist will clean any teeth and check the need for fluoride application. The big component of the first dental visit at this age is dental hygiene education as well as answering any questions that parents might have.

Pediatric Dentistry Marielaina Perrone DDSThe early dental visit will help you and your child build trust in your dentist. As a parent, you will see, that every 6 months there is a huge change in your child’s development and maturity. So, be assured, that even if your child cannot handle very much the first visit, it will become markedly easier at the next 6 month visit. For a child, they will become used to the dental visits, and usually look forward to them.

Dental Education Can Include:

-How to maintain a good oral hygiene regimen for your child’s teeth and gums as well as cavity prevention.

-Assess the need for fluoride supplements.

-Oral habits and their effects. These include thumb sucking, pacifier habits, and tongue thrusting.

-Developmental issues like teething.

-Nutrition instructions including foods, and beverages to avoid to decrease chance of tooth decay.

-Schedule of dental examinations. Most children are seen every 6 months just like adults. This allows the child to become more and more comfortable at the dentist as well as allow the dentist to closely monitor development and promptly treat any issues.

First Dental X-Rays for Children?

In general, dental x-rays should be taken when a child has back teeth which are in tight contact with each other, when a cavity is detected, or an anomaly is noted. Back teeth x-rays, (bite wings) and a jaw x-ray,(panoramic) should be taken by age 6 to assess developing teeth. It all depends on the children and their risk levels for dental problems like tooth decay or cleft lip/palate. If the child is deemed to be at a higher risk, then x-rays will be necessary earlier. Most children will have had their first dental x-rays by age 6. Dental X-rays play an important role in allowing your dentist to see if all permanent teeth are developing properly in your child’s jaw as well as detecting tooth decay.

Conclusion

The main takeaway is that children need proper dental care and instruction to maintain their dental health. The earlier you get started with your kids the better off they will be  as children and as adults.

 

Teething - The eruption and cutting of teeth especially the primary teeth.

Teething can be a very difficult time for parents and child. The child will experience some level of discomfort and most parents cannot bear to see their children hurting at all. Not to mention the possible loss of sleep for baby and parents.

Signs and Symptoms of Teething

By age 2 and 1/2 most children have all 20 of their primary teeth. During the process of teeth erupting into the mouth, your child may experience some signs and symptoms. These can include the following:

-Excessive Drooling. Many babies drool so much during the teething process that it is hard to even begin to keep them dry. Teething stimulates drooling and it begins for most babies at about 10 weeks of age.

 -Rash on cheeks or chin. The rash development is linked to excessive drooling. If your baby is drooling excessively, they may develop a dry skin rash around the mouth, and on their chin due to contact with the excessive saliva. Drying the skin around the mouth frequently will help prevent the rash. Use of a gentle skin cream will help moisturize the rash, helping it to heal faster.

 -Coughing. Sometimes the drool will make babies cough for no apparent reason. The baby is actually gagging a little on the excessive drool. The baby should be monitored if this persists and also check to ensure there are no other signs or symptoms of cold, allergies, or flu present.

-Chewing or Biting. As the teeth begin to push through the gums it can cause some discomfort for the baby. Babies learn very quickly that counter pressure will sooth that discomfort. That is why they enjoy chewing on things, especially cold, around this time. This can also be a tough time for mom if she is breast feeding.

-Discomfort or Pain. Every baby will be affected differently. Some experience terrible pain and others barely anything. The first teeth to erupt usually cause the most pain or discomfort. Most babies eventually get used to the pain or discomfort and it is not as severe after the initial tooth eruptions.

 -Irritability. Babies will become irritable during this time as their sleep is affected by chronic discomforts. The same could be said for some parents!

 -Refusing to Feed or Eat. The suction of feeding can cause babies discomfort during this time. Teething babies sometimes become fussy about feedings and become even angrier when they get hungrier and hungrier. Talk to your pediatrician about possibly offering solid foods to baby during this time if they are not already on them. The chewing will relieve some of the discomfort.

 -Development of Diarrhea. This has caused some division among pediatricians but some parents report the development of diarrhea during the teething process. Either way it is important to keep your baby hydrated during the teething process. Speak to your pediatrician if the diarrhea persists.

-Development of a Low grade fever. The fever is believed to be due to the inflammatory process in the body. As the teeth erupt, the babies gum tissue becomes inflamed and this inflammation can sometimes produce a low grade fever (less than 101 degrees F). Treat as you would any other low grade fever but if it persists call your doctor.

-Poor Sleeping Habits. The teething process does not only happen during the day, it can spill over into the evenings. The teething discomfort can disrupt nap time as well as night time sleeping.

-Gum Hematoma. Teething can cause bleeding under the gum tissue, which looks like a bluish lump. It is not anything to be worried about and can heal faster with the help of a cold compress.

-Ear pulling; cheek rubbing. Teething babies may tug on their ears or rub their cheeks or chin. The reason for this is that these areas all share the same nerve pathways. Discomfort in the mouth can travel to other areas in and around the face. Be on the lookout for an ear infection as well. Babies who have ear infections have similar symptoms.

Relief From Teething

There are some things parents can do to make their babies feel better. They include:

-Chewing. As mentioned earlier, chewing soothes teething babies. Some good choices might be rubber teething rings and rattles for them to chew on. Another good option is a frozen, wet washcloth to let them chew on. Our babies liked cold, peeled carrots, they are large,  impossible to swallow or chew, but taste good and are not too hard. The cold will relieve the discomfort.

-Rubbing. Your finger rubbed firmly on baby’s gums, or a wet washcloth, can provide the same soothing counter pressure. Your baby may not like it at first because it might initially hurt, but the counter pressure will bring relief.

-Pain relief. If all of the above do not work to relieve the teething discomfort you may want to turn to some sort of pain relief. Acetominophen (Tylenol) is an excellent choice, but as always, check with your pediatrician before using any medications. Some people like to use topical numbing agents, like Anbesol, but babies tend to get very upset with the feeling it gives.

Conclusion on Teething

Teething can be a difficult time for both parents and baby, but armed with good educational information, you can get through it as easily as possible. Follow the tips above to keep you and your baby happy and comfortable.