In the U.S., between 9% and 20% of the population avoids dental visits because of anxiety. This is an unfortunate phenomenon, because preventative dental care is so important to help people avoid serious issues, such as abscesses, tooth decay, periodontal disease, and more. If you are putting off dental visits for your child because of their anxiety, here are some ways to help your child overcome their fears.
1. Visit an Office That Uses Aromatherapy
You may think that aromatherapy is only used at massage clinics or spas, but there are dental offices that use it too. Your child might like scents like bergamot, chamomile, or clary sage to reduce anxiety.
2. Use Noise-Canceling Headphones
Every individual is different, but a very common cause of dental anxiety is the high-pitched whir of what's commonly called the "dental drill." These aren't drills at all—they are called high-speed handpieces. The reason they sound the way they do is because of their high RPMs. The dentist can work precisely and efficiently because of the quick rotation of handpiece burs.
Even if you know what this sound comes from, it can still sound like nails on a chalkboard and raise your child's anxiety. Ask your dentist about noise-canceling headphones or bring your own for your kid. These headphones can block out the sound so you can rest your eyes and relax.
3. Try Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry is great because it can be tailored to numerous patients' needs and desires. You could have a light sedative, or you could be put completely out with general anesthesia. If you want minimal sedation, your dentist will likely have you take an oral medication about an hour before your appointment. This kind of sedative will make you a little drowsy and calm, but you'll still be awake during the procedure.
Another option for light sedation is nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas. Nitrous oxide is a great way to relieve anxiety because it has few side effects and is generally safe for children in good health. You will see a quicker recovery in your child than if other sedation methods are used. If your child has allergies or a cold, this sedative won't be as effective because they won't be able to effectively inhale the gas.
Sedation dentistry can be a lifesaver for children or teens with anxiety; however, it's imperative that you give your dentist an updated list of medications they are taking, even if they don't seem important. Some antibiotics and antidepressants can interact with sedation options, so be sure to consult with your dentist beforehand. To get more information, contact a children's dental care specialist.