Making Dental Visits Less Scary: Tips for Helping Kids Overcome Their Fears
Dr Freda Guiney
As a dentist, I understand that visiting a dental surgery can be an anxiety-inducing experience for many children. The unfamiliar environment, strange sounds and potential discomfort can make the surgery seem like a scary place for some young patients. However, there are several steps that both dentists and parents can take to alleviate these fears and make dental visits a far more positive experience.
One of the most common fears children have when visiting their dentist is the fear of pain. Many children associate dental visits with pain, either because of previous negative experiences or stories they have heard from others. To address this fear, it is important for both parents and dentists to be honest with children about what to expect during their appointment. Explain that while there may be some discomfort, the dentist will do everything possible to minimise any pain. It can also be helpful to have the child practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques before and during the appointment to help them stay calm.
Another common fear is the fear of the unknown. For many children, visiting the dentist is a new experience and they may feel unsure or uneasy about what will happen. To help alleviate this, it can be helpful to take the child on a tour of the dental office prior to their appointment. This can help familiarise them with the environment and the tools the dentist will use during their exam. It can also be helpful to explain each step of the appointment beforehand so the child knows what to expect.
Some children may also fear losing control during their appointment. Being in a new environment with a stranger can be overwhelming for some children, and they may worry about not being able to communicate their needs or feeling uncomfortable with the dentist’s actions. It is important for dentists to take the time to explain each step of the appointment and to listen to the child’s concerns. Letting the child have some control over the appointment, such as choosing the TV show they want to watch or the flavour of fluoride treatment, can also help them feel more comfortable and in control.
Finally, some children may simply be scared of the dentist due to negative associations they have formed in the past. To overcome this fear, it is important to find ways to make dental visits a positive experience. Praising the child for their bravery and good behaviour during the appointment can help build their confidence and make future visits less scary. Rewarding them with a small treat or toy after their appointment can also help them associate dental visits with positive experiences.
In conclusion, there are many fears children may have when visiting the dentist, but there are also many strategies that can be used to overcome these fears. By being honest, providing information, listening to the child’s concerns, and making dental visits a positive experience, parents and dentists can help children feel more comfortable and confident during their appointments.
About Dr Freda Guiney:
Dr Freda Guiney graduated with an honours degree from University College, Cork; in 1999. After spending several years in the UK developing her dental skills, she returned to Ireland to set up the practice, here in Ballincollig, Cork. She has a wealth of experience in general dentistry, with specialist skills in cosmetic dentistry and implant dentistry.
Freda was given the prestigious award of Sensodyne Sensitive Dentist of the Year; in recognition of her considerable skills in helping to make nervous or anxious patients feel more comfortable in the dentist’s chair. If you’re feeling worried about receiving dental treatment (particularly if you’ve had a bad experience in the past), then pay a visit to Dr Freda Guiney, who will take the time to make the experience as stress-free and relaxing as possible.
Freda has much experience with dental implants, and completed her training at the Northern Ireland Dental Implant Centre. She continually attends dental courses to ensure that her services remain of the very highest standard.
She’s also contributed to a number of national publications, including Xpose Magazine and Health & Living Magazine and
About Guiney Dental Practice
At Guiney Dental, our team of experts will transform your teeth cleaning, scaling or polishing to help you to rediscover your natural smile. If your teeth require more extensive work to get back on track, such as bleaching, crowns, orthodontics or implants, we can help. Get in touch today.