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Combating dental anxiety in children:

Does a trip to the dentist make your child nervous? Here are some easy tips from Specialist Paediatric Dentist, Dr Harleen Kumar
By Dr Harleen Kumar
Date: July 26 2012
Editor Rating:
child-dentist

Sacrifice chocolate and sweets for calcium rich foods like sugar free yoghurt? It’s no wonder that most children don’t take kindly to the stranger that preaches healthy eating habits and has a very suspicious drill in his toolset. As a rule of thumb, children often don’t know what’s best for them and as a parent taking your child to the dentist can be a painstaking task. However, visits to the dentist can be as simple as visits to the zoo if you send your child the right message from the beginning!

As a specialist paediatric dentist, I have discovered that parents often misunderstand the importance of caring for their child’s baby teeth. It is important to show extra care when it comes to brushing teeth and scheduling regular dental appointments in order to prevent dental problems later down the track. Unhealthy baby teeth can often lead to unhealthy adult teeth so it is essential to take care of your child’s little pearly whites properly if you want to maintain their big happy smiles.

I recommend that children begin regularly seeing a dentist from the age of one and are encouraged to brush their teeth twice a day with a soft small head tooth brush. Of course if you notice any teeth discolouration, or your child experiences any pain you should visit a dentist immediately.

Many parents worry that their child may feel anxiety towards the dentist and therefore avoid booking appointments; however, if you follow these easy tips dental anxiety will never enter your household.

  • Try setting up a role play of the dentist with your child’s teddy bears and dolls. This activity is not only a fun way to spend time with your child but will also sooth any unwarranted fears your child may have.
  • Take your child along to a parent or older sibling’s dental appointment. This will familiarize your child with the dentist and make him or her feel more comfortable.
  • Think about the best time in the day to take your child to the dentist.  Try to avoid taking your child to the dentist around nap times as a happy child will have a happy experience.
  • Read your child books about the dentist. There are plenty of great books out there that can be a really useful tool in teaching your child why they need to go to the dentist and what to expect when they get there.
  • Remember to always be positive about going to the dentist. Tell your child about how much fun they are going to have while the dentist makes sure their teeth are nice and healthy.
  • Always answer your child’s questions.  Usually children’s dental fears are based on school yard folk-tales which are simply untrue. A discussion with your child about what is fact and what is not is usually enough to combat any irrational fears.
  • A little bit of praise never goes astray. If your child has overcome a personal hurdle by seeing the dentist, it can be a good idea to tell him or her how proud you are or even reward the child
  • Watch the video "my first visit to the dentist" with your child by visiting Toothfairy.com.au.

Dr Harleen Kumar BDSc (Melb), DClinDent (Melb) is a Registered Specialist Paedodontist at Smile Solutions 4 Kids. Dr Kumar has completed a Bachelor of Dental Science and Doctorate in Clinical Dentistry (Paediatric Dentistry). 

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Abigail says: 2012 08 02
Rating:

Always a struggle - thanks for the helpful tips on ways to avoid the later and greater pain of the dentist’s bill.

Sydney Dentist says: 2012 11 26
Rating:

Yes, it really helps.  And parents, be sure to find a gentle dentist near you, look for the positive reviews of the dentist’s former patients in the internet for your guidance and reference.  You only want the most gentle hands for your child’s dental health. This would leave your child a great experience in the dental clinic and this makes it easier for you to bring your child to the dentist again.

Sydney Dentist

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