Dental fear is very common — many people are afraid of the dental chair because of the intimidating surroundings in the dental surgery and a fear that they will have a painful experience. Dental anxiety is a problem because people with a fear of the dentist are less likely to seek dental help when they need it. This can be especially problematic if they develop dental issues, such as tooth abscesses, for example, which can be potentially fatal if left untreated.
Dental practitioners employ a range of methods to help calm patients with dental anxiety. Sedation, which is offered at practices like Bow House Dental, helps patients relax by administering a calming drug intravenously. Alternatively, patients with a fear of needles may opt to inhale nitrous oxide instead.
Many children with dental fear have usually had some kind of traumatic dental experience when they were young. However, a child’s temperament may also affect their likelihood to grow up with a dental phobia.
A Swedish study shows that shy children are more likely to exhibit dental phobia as they age compared to children with more outgoing and adaptable temperaments. Children who shy away from new experiences are more likely to be afraid of undergoing dental treatment, even if they have not experienced physical pain during a previous visit.
These findings are understandable, as many children find new situations frightening or distressing. Dental practices can seem large and intimidating to young children, and a stranger poking around in their mouths can be especially stressful.
Preventing Dental Fear in a Shy Child
Though shy children are at risk of developing dental fear as they grow older, parents and dentists can help them become more comfortable with the idea of receiving dental treatment.
Parents can gently help their young children by bringing them to a trusted dentist at an early age, and letting them get to know him or her. Repeated visits to the same family dentist usually work well, building trust and making the dental experience feel more familiar to them.
The first few visits should only include non-invasive treatments or a simple dental check-up. The goal is to help your shy child to learn to trust the dentist and to receive treatment with minimal fuss.