In our offices, Utah Pediatric Dentists, we take the trust of your child, and you as their parent in selecting our professionals to take care of your child’s dental needs very seriously. We strive to provide a warm and welcoming environment, and our staff is selected specifically because they care about our mission and our vision for our practice and our community.
Our mission is to provide comprehensive dental services to children of all ages from infant to adolescence, of all needs including special needs – in a compassionate and caring manner. Our pediatric dental professionals are educated, experienced, and specially trained to provide dental hygiene education and dental services in a fun and inviting environment that will ensure your child has a positive experience in our offices.
Our vision is to see happy and healthy smiles in all the children of our communities. That no child be prevented from receiving dental care due to fear, anxiety, cost, accessibility, or convenience.
We know that dental anxiety (also referred to as Odontophobia when the fear is severe) is a legitimate struggle for some. For many that anxiety is rooted in a prior negative experience, fear of pain, fear of the strange-looking instruments, or simply passed on from a parent with dental anxiety down to their children. Our emotions and perspectives about the world surrounding us do impact our children, even if unconsciously done. So, if it’s time for your child to have a dental checkup yet they are expressing discomfort, anxiety, or actively rebelling against the idea, this article is for you.
1. Communicate: talk about it. It is possible that their fears can be lessened simply by sharing their thoughts with a loving parent. Furthermore, if you as an adult struggle with dental anxiety, it is also possible they are picking up on your discomfort. Exercise patience for this conversation, and remain calm. Understanding what their fear is will allow you to soothe their fears and address them. Keep what you say positive, and try not to speculate to them about potential procedures or pain.
2. Schedule the visit with a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists have special training to work with children; usually three to four years’ additional courses and training on top of what a general family dentist completes. This extra training allows us the knowledge and skills to better communicate with children, and respond to their curiosity, their anxieties, and their varying developmental levels. Moreover, pediatric dental offices typically have an atmosphere specifically suited for children. For example, our office locations are equipped with waiting rooms that not only are comfortable but have play areas, games, and books to entertain your child as you wait for the appointment. Pediatric dentists also utilize instruments specifically designed for their comfort and size. We further discuss the differences between pediatric and general dentists in-depth, here.
3. Notify the pediatric dentist of your child’s anxieties. We love our jobs, and we care about dental health in children. Our commitment to our work extends to a focus of ensuring that your child has a positive experience. Let us know that your child is experiencing some anxiety. We take the time to discuss with our patients (and their parents) what exactly we plan to do for the visit. We can show them the tools that we use, and explain their purpose.
4. Select a pediatric dentist that offers in-office sedation services. Not all dental practices perform in-office sedation. Our offices are fully equipped and trained in the use of sedation for dentistry. We offer oral sedation options, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), and can perform intravenous sedation for procedures when necessary. Nitrous oxide sedation is typically used when our patients need to relax, furthermore, it helps relieve anxieties and tension.
5. Play going to the dentist at home. Roleplay may seem silly and uncomfortable when it’s with your coworkers in the office, but kids love it. Practice being the dentist with your child, clean their teeth and look for cavities. Keep it positive and fun.
6. Arrive at the appointment early. If you have to rush out the door and across town to arrive at the appointment on time, that will elevate your stress and your child’s. Additionally, an early arrival will allow your children time to familiarize themselves with the environment and absorb the friendly atmosphere.
7. Encourage questions. Once your child has expressed their anxiety or fear to you, encourage them to ask questions of the dentist! You can be present to support them, but an important part of overcoming a fear is to learn about it and take ownership of it. When your child asks questions instead of deferring fully to you, they take some control for themselves which can help them feel more secure.
A cruel irony is that when people allow their anxiety of the dentist to prevent them from biannual cleanings and checkups, it can allow dental concerns to grow unchecked which in turn requires more dental work when you finally do go in. These tips to overcome dental anxieties in kids, can and should apply to adults with dental anxiety as well.
At home, focus on excellent dental hygiene, brushing for two minutes twice a day, and flossing daily. Take your kids to the dentist when that very first tooth pops through, or by the age of one. Create a culture in your home that dental care is important and routine. If you haven’t done that up to this point, don’t guilt yourself over it. You can always start now!
Utah Pediatric Dentists has three convenient locations, all staffed with compassionate, qualified people who are part of this community. Give us a call at 801-948-8880 and start prioritizing your child’s dental health today!