Reducing Dental Anxiety in Children

As a dental family we get asked a lot of dental questions but one common one is how to reduce anxiety for children before dental appointments.  Below are 5 Question and Answers from Dr. Kaveh and Trish Ghaboussi, RDH of Madison Smile Solutions.

1) What tips do you have for parents to prepare their child for their first trip to the dentist?

The best tips for parents is to not pass on their fears or dislikes.  Children are super perceptive on how their parent is feeling and will feed off of that energy.  It's really important that parents feel comfortable with the dentist too.  Kids typically are much better behaved if their parents don't sit in the room with them.  As a mom myself, my kids typically are much more respectful and listen better if I'm not there trying to control their behavior.  If your child is really anxious, we suggest visiting first to tour our family friendly office.  This way they can be familiar with the office, team, noises, sights, smells.  There are also a lot of great "Going to the Dentist" books to grab from the library or scholastic books orders to help with familiarizing your child.  Also one of my favorite links from sesamestreet is:  There are silly songs and games and videos to watch.   If your child is old enough have them write and draw out the steps before their dental visit for example:  1) Drive to office 2) Check in at desk 3) Go back to treatment chair 4) Relax and wait for dentist/hygienist 5)  Discuss suction (Mr. Thirsty), water, polishing etc. 

2) At what age do you suggest parents bring a child in for their first visit? 

We suggest first visit by age one.  If kids get used to coming early and have a positive experience then they typically will have be a lifetime fan of the dentist.

3) What are the biggest mistakes parents can make to increase a child's dental anxiety?

I think the biggest mistake parents make are trying to sit in the room and yell "Open up",  "Say Ahh" or "Sit still!"  As a dental professional, our goal is to have your child have a pain-free comfortable appointment and we can help redirect them if they aren't doing well.  We encourage parents to be an active participant and are always welcome to check in on the kids or stay in the room if they feel it's necessary.

4) What are the most important things a dentist can do to ease a child's fears?

A kind dentist, like Dr. Kaveh Ghaboussi, will take the time to explain what is going to happen so the patient knows they have control.  A good dental office and team will take the time to understand and respect the person's fears to help them overcome them.  Dr. Kaveh and Trish, one of our dental hygienists, are parents of a 6 and 4 year old.  They truly want your kids to feel as comfortable coming to their appointments as our kids do.  Our team really enjoys seeing kids of all ages and helping them learn about ways to make your mouth clean and healthy.

5) What steps should be taken when a child begins to show signs of severe dental anxiety? 

At our office we use a lot of distraction.   We use breathing exercises, TV or even singing silly songs if needed.  Some patients respond well to nitrous oxide to help them "zone out."  Most of the time kids just need to time to be kids and ask questions.  Getting your teeth worked on is super invasive and awkward for everyone and many of us need extra time sometimes.

 Please call today to make your appointment for yourself or your kids.  608-227-7000.