Dentophobia is faced by every one in five children. Dentophobia is defined as fear of dentists. This anxiety developed in many children can make routine dental check-ups a nightmare .The experience can be stressfulfor dentists, patients, and parents as well.
Depending on the age, children can have many different fears. It can be of strangers, monsters under their bed or dogs. But sometimes fear can be of seeing the doctor. The fear of going to the dentist is also noted in some children. The prevalence of dentophobia, or anxiety associated with seeing the dentist, is very common. The figures are increasing day by day.
Dental hygiene and its care is an important factor of health. And skipping it can turn out to be harmful. Over the passage of time, some children may grow out of this fear. But for others, this anxiety seems to prevail even in adulthood. This avoidance of basic dental care will eventually cause severe health problems. Hence, if a child’s fear is managed at the given time, it can help to make a lifetime impact.
The most important question is that why do some kids have dentophobia? The answer lies in the techniques used by dentists. The dental procedure, where a stranger puts instrument into ones mouth can sound alarming to the kids. The technique itself is very invasive. Along with this, the noises of devices and general feeling associated with an undergoing process of dental care, can make kids uneasy. Sometimes, dentist themselves, can potentially cause discomfort or pain. This can incite anticipatory anxiety in patients.
Thus to help children overcome anxiety, parents have to be vigilant regarding this matter. The earlier they introduce their children to dental care, the better it is. The familiarity with the dentist and dental procedures, can lessen the mental toll on the children. Kids can visit the dental office initially to set a precedent by parents as not a scary place. Parents can begin with making appointments, just to allow kids develop connection with their dentist.
Parents can choose a paediatric dentist who has the skill to deal with young ones. The ability to speak with kids in a gentle and reassuring way, can make them feel calmer. The cheery ambience of the office also have a positive effect.
It is suggested to tell the child in advance about the appointment. Parents should explain that dentist will simply check and clean the child’s teeth. It is better for parents that they leave too many details. They should avoid discussing dental techniques as these will scare them easily. It should be kept in mind that sharing unnecessary lengthy details will only worsen dentophobia. So in case if child needs to be aware of anything ahead of time, parents can omit the scary part of the dental procedure. Also, it’s better for the parents not to share their negative dental experiences with kids. This may fright them as kids take cues from their parents. Hence it is advised to make kids comfortable in dentist’s office as much as they can.
If the child seems anxious, dentist can show the child how the procedure is going to be. Demonstration can be done on the child’s doll or stuffed animal such as counting and cleaning its teeth. One can do this by using their finger or a toothbrush to show the child how the encounter will look like. But not with an instrument as it may cause sound which can make child uneasy. Dentist can also allow child to count or brush their own teeth. The main point of this activity is to make them feel calm, so that the dentist can carry the child through the actual procedure
Upon the arrival of the kid in the dental office, it is advised that dentists should keep their voice calm and reassuring. Distractions can be helpful while kids and parents wait and even in the dental chair. Parents can bring a small toy to hold or play with. Some children might find it relaxing to listen to music while they have their teeth cleaned and checked. So playing some music on headphones, can make a real difference.
After the appointment, dentists and parents should praise the kid for doing a good job. This can be rewarded by giving the child a small sticker or little toy. But abstain from promising big rewards as the child may suspect that something terrible is about to happen.
The importance of overcoming this fear is essential. It’s better that kids master to face this fear at the earliest. Since the negligence can affect both the mental and physical wellbeing of the child. This can be done by support both from parents and dentists. In case all above measures do not work, an intervention of psychotherapist can be done. They are well versed in treating childhood related anxieties and can help in treating phobias.