While it’s not uncommon for people to dread a dentist appointment, children may need extra help getting over their dental anxiety. Our best advice to overcome fear is to start dental treatment for children early so that they accept trips to the dentist as a normal part of life.
Why Are Children Afraid of the Dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children have their first dental appointment within 6 months of getting their first tooth (age 1 by the latest). It’s also important to have a conversation with your child about what they can expect from their first appointment so they can mentally prepare.
Reasons why children experience dental anxiety include:
- Parents are afraid of the dentist
- Fear of pain
- Fear of needles
- Fear of losing control or being helpless
- Fear of new places
- Change in routine
- Insufficient preparation for child’s first dental appointment
If your child continues to feel apprehensive about going to the dentist, you may want to ask your Grand Rapids family dentist what options are available to help them feel more relaxed.
Delaying dentist appointments for children only creates an opportunity for cavities to grow unchecked. A dentist for children deals with fearful patients every day and wants to help your child overcome their dental fear so they can maintain a healthy smile.
1. Laughing Gas
Laughing gas is mixed with oxygen and administered through a special mask placed over your child’s nose. Your child will then be asked to breathe in the gas which works quickly to help them relax.
During the procedure, your child will be awake and responsive. However, most patients don’t remember what happened during the procedure. Dental laughing gas is safe for children and quickly wears off once the mask is removed.
2. Oral Conscious Sedation
If your child’s pediatric dentist decides that oral conscious sedation is most appropriate for your child’s level of anxiety, your child will drink a special medicine that helps them feel relaxed.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to closely monitor your child after the procedure and keep them at home for the rest of the day until the medicine wears off. Oral conscious sedation is safe, yet effective for children with dental fear.
3. General Anesthesia
In rare cases, a child may need general anesthesia for dental procedures. For example, a child with special needs may not understand why their Grand Rapids pediatric dentist needs to drill into their tooth to remove a cavity and not cooperate unless put under general anesthesia.
A pediatric special needs dentist will be able to help you determine the best way to treat your child. For your child’s safety, we do the procedure in a hospital and have an anesthesiologist in charge of sedation.
Call Our Office Today!
Our Grand Rapids pediatric dentists at Mitten Kids Dentistry can help your child overcome dental anxiety so they can maintain a healthy smile. To schedule your child’s appointment, call our pediatric dentists at (616) 942-9840.