A child’s first dental visit is typically filled with wonder, that is unless, they are accompanied by a parent or caregiver who may be transmitting negative messages. Parental dental anxiety is common. Adults who are fearful of the dentist have a tendency to pass on their negative fears and anxiety to their children. Only adults willing to model a positive attitude should accompany their child to the dentist.
Jane Soxman DDS, pediatric dentist and diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry says,
“Fearful parents can actually create a nervous and anxious child. Parents who are afraid of the dentist need to change their mindset.”
Most children are completely comfortable with their first dental exam and even cavity filling. They may become fearful and problematic however, if the accompanying parent or caregiver shares soothing messages laced with nervousness or anxiety, relaying the incorrect assumptions about the procedure they are undergoing.
Parents Dental Anxiety? Take a Deep Breath!
Many adults have dental anxiety from negative experiences they have encountered. Because of this, parents’ expectations and interpretations of a dental visit can be quite different from what their child will experience. If you, as a parent or caregiver, have severe dental anxiety, you must make every effort not to pass it off to your children.
Parents, take a deep breath! Your presence is support enough for your child! Pediatric dentists are trained to soothe and comfort your child, but your presence is recommended for the first exam and until the age of 4 for any restorative treatments.
If you want to accompany your child, but you have dental anxiety, you can schedule a pre-treatment meeting. Your child’s’ dentist can provide direction and guidelines for what a parent should say or how they should behave. Parents learn how to provide moral support by maintaining a low calm voice. The parent should not “parrot” the dentist requests but support them as the authority figure during procedures. It is important the same parent accompany the child through all of their procedures, at least until the age of four.
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