If you felt very nervous before your first trip to the dentist, or if you have a first dental appointment impending and you’re dreading it, you’re certainly not alone. Dental phobia is highly common, even in adulthood, as more than 10% of adults suffer from extreme dental anxiety. The fear of dental visits is understandable, but when that fear stops people from going at all, that can be problematic. Research by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom showed that 40% of children do not visit a dentist annually.
The thought of a stranger ramming a variety of sharp tools into your mouth can seem frightening but trust us when we say that any discomfort you may feel during dental surgery is minimal and fleeting. Firstly, dentists are highly qualified medical experts who are extremely knowledgeable in their work and will have been trained to reassure nervous patients, especially children. They can talk parents through the tools that they’ll use in the surgery and will often use colorful finger puppets to explain the process for children. Once the procedure has finished, most dentists will give the child a treat or prize as a reward for their behavior during the surgery.
Remember, too, that good dental habits are not just dispensed at the dentist’s practice; they need to be applied consistently at home. If your child has sucking habits, it’s vital to stop these as early as possible so that their teeth don’t become misaligned. When brushing, use only a pea-sized amount of soft toothpaste and replace toothbrushes frequently. If you child is unable to use toothpaste, encourage them to rinse their mouth with water instead; this will at least wash away food particles.
To read more about what children (or adults) can expect from their first trip to the dentist, have a look at this infographic from Dervla Leavy Dental Care in Ireland.