Could Your Child’s Dental Visit Anxiety Be A Learned Trait?
Children – avoiding ‘fear of the dentist’
A new survey has revealed that children’s anxiety about dentists could be a trait they have learned from their parents.
It has long been understood that children may become fearful of certain things because they see their parents being fearful of those things too.
Here at Abbey Road Dental in St John’s Wood, we have seen children who will openly explain they are scared of their visit because mummy or daddy gets scared. Of course no parent would try to make their child afraid of the dentist, but it is difficult to remember that little eyes are on us all the time, and we may say a certain feeling, or act a certain way in front of our children, unaware that they have completely absorbed it and formed an opinion based on what they have seen or heard.
At our dental surgery, we recommend parents bring their children to our clinic as soon as their first tooth appears, so they can become comfortable at our friendly clinic and learn to have a positive attitude towards their oral health. However, parents know most of their child’s health care is at home, when brushing routines, eating well and a positive attitude towards oral health is reinforced. As well as great brushing routines and encouragement, it is also important children don’t see their parents being nervous or fearful of the dentist, because it could cause them to feel anxious about their own visit.
The survey showed:
● The amount of adults (nearly half of those surveyed) who expressed a fear of going to the dentist, is the same as the amount of children in the survey who also expressed a fear
● Mums showed to be the most fearful out of the men and women surveyed with 55 percent being fearful, over 40 percent of men
● 17 percent of children surveyed didn’t like their dentist which caused anxiety about visits
● Nearly 4 in 10 children are fearful of a visit to the dentist
● Over 50% of children surveyed were afraid because they worried their visit would be painful
The survey shows that whilst parents showing a fear of the dentist may cause the child to be fearful, education and experience is also a key factor. If your child has a bad experience, worries they will be in pain during their first visit, or has taken a dislike to their dentist, they may be anxious about visiting. So as well as parents being positive about dental visits, and reinforcing a positive attitude about oral health, it is also important children have the opportunity to see their fears are unfounded via positive dental visits, and honest but carefully considered answers to their questions.
To avoid children being nervous about the dentist:
● Bring them to Abbey Road Dental early, as soon as they get their first tooth.
● Be positive – if children ask questions about the dentist, avoid using scary words like filling or injection, and keep it honest, simple and positive. Avoid talking about what ‘could’ happen and instead focus on what will happen, talking about the fact they will get to see inside their mouths with an amazing little camera, and that the dentist will count their teeth.
● Be positive about your own dental experiences – don’t show fear or anxiety in front of them, and avoid saying things like ‘nasty dentist’ when explaining why your teeth are hurting. Try to let children know dentists make poorly mouths better.
Bring Your Children In To Our NW8 Clinic
If your children are ready for their first checkup, or they are fearful of the dentist and need a visit to a family friendly dental clinic to alleviate their fears, please give us a call on 02076241603. All our staff are trained to treat children in a way that makes them happy about their dental visits. In fact, children will often have fun at their dental visits with us. We are the family friendly clinic, and would love for you to bring your children into see us.