If you or your child is afraid of the dentist, you’re not alone. Children and adults alike can suffer from dental anxiety. Close to 19.5% of school age children are afraid of going to the dentist. In order to maintain proper oral health, it is important to find ways to combat dental anxiety no matter your age. When it comes to children there are several helpful behavioral strategies that can help manage a child with dental anxiety.

In Dentistry Today, Lisa A. Efron, PhD, and Jeffrey A. Sherman, DDS offer several behavioral strategies for parents and dental professionals to help calm a child who has dental anxiety. They recommend the following tactics, as well as some others to reduce pediatric dental phobia:

• Children prefer the predictable so give them information. Telling your child what to expect prior to their dental appointment can help calm their fears.
• Physically relaxing a child in the dental chair is effective for treating dental anxiety. Deep breathing exercises or using soothing audiotapes can release tension.
• Distracting a child from what the dentist is actually doing is a great way to combat dental fear. Distractions can range from using a TV screen to play a favorite movie to asking the child to count the ceiling tiles or remember a funny story.

For adults and children alike who suffer from dental anxiety many dental practices offer sedation dentistry as well. Sedation dentistry includes methods that are completely safe for kids and can help them get through a necessary dental procedure.

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is commonly used on pediatric dental patients as well as adults who have a mild or moderate dental anxiety. Nitrous oxide gently eases patient’s fears so that they can relax and comfortably receive needed dental care. Nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and delivered through a small mask over the nose of its recipient. As a patient breathes through their nose the gas begins to work allowing a person to gradually become less agitated and nervous. When the gas is turned off, the effects wear off very quickly.

Dental phobia, at any age, should never be an excuse to refuse dental care. If you or your child has dental anxiety Dr. Juban and the caring staff at Juban Dental will work tirelessly to ensure you are comfortable during your visit.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Michael Juban, Juban Dental Care

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