According to an article published by Livestrong.com, more than half of U.S. children develop a cavity by age 5 and the average American 17-year-old has had eight cavities. Clearly, regular visits to the dentist are imperative as is educating our youth on proper oral hygiene. Unfortunately, many children have intense fears and anxiety when it comes to going to the dentist (as do many adults), which may cause parents to delay taking their kids to the dentist, or worse, they may avoid it completely.
To help parents rest at ease that their children are in safe hands, Everyday Health’s TopDentists.com has launched its “America’s Top Dentists” survey, in which dental professionals, including general dentists, orthodontists, prosthodontists, periodontists, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons, can be nominated by peers and patients. By year-end, TopDentists.com will release the survey results naming one dentist from each of the top 100 U.S. designated market areas (DMAs) as a “Top Dentist.” Another great way to find a reliable dentist is to ask your friends, family, neighbor, child’s teacher, and/or pediatrician. Cross-reference the list of possible dentists you have found with those covered by your child’s dental insurance to come up with potential candidates.
Once you’ve settled on a possible dentist, schedule a day to go into the dental office to see both the waiting area and the office where the visit will take place. Make sure to look around to assess how clean and how child-friendly the environment is as this will help alleviate some of your child’s fears. You’ll also want to pick a dentist who you consider to be friendly (also take into consideration his/her staff), and one who is known for putting children’s dental fears at ease. Make sure you are only looking at pediatric dentists as they specialize in working with children.
Next, schedule appointments as early and as often as possible. It is suggested that a child’s first appointment take place six months after his/her first tooth erupts. Starting early will allow your child to feel at ease with regular dental visits as well as help prevent cavities and other oral health problems.
Prior to going to the dentist, speak with your child about the experience. This is especially important if your little one has already expressed a potential fear or anxiety about their forthcoming appointment. Perhaps you can give them some coping mechanisms like picturing a calming scene and reassuring them that they have nothing to worry about.
During the visit you’ll also want to stay in close proximity to your child. Do not wait in the waiting area, but rather go in with your child into the examination room. This will help soothe some of your child’s anxiety.
If all of the aforementioned things are done, there should be no reason for your child to develop any long-term fears or anxiety in regards to seeing a dentist.