How to Calm Your Child’s Fears About Dental Visits
The dentist office is the last place most kids want to be and for some, the anxiety can be intense. Jenna Schulten, DMD and owner of Dupont Pediatric Dentistry, says she encourages parents to follow the AAP and the AAPD recommendations to schedule their child’s first dental appointment by their first birthday — not only to maintain the overall health of their teeth, but to get them accustomed to going to the dentist office. She and her team work together to ensure that the child’s first appointment isn’t traumatic.
The goal is to familiarize children with the environment and assure them that they are safe. “Younger children usually cannot verbally communicate their fears, which results in tears when they are doing something they don’t want to do. They are apprehensive [at first], but the more they see it, they will know it will be an easy appointment,” she says. Prior to their dental cleaning, Jenna will tell them what she is going to do to their teeth. She also lets them hold a toothbrush, pick out their toothpaste, and taste it as a way of easing the tension. In her lap-to-lap technique, she allows the child to lie down on their parent’s lap while she cleans their teeth. “This helps them feel more comfortable and in control,” she says.