Caring for an Elderly Parent With Special Dental Needs

Caring for an Elderly Parent With Special Dental Needs

3 Strategies for Minimizing Dental Anxiety in Children

Joe Lawrence

Dental fear and anxiety is a common phenomenon among children, one that can present significant challenges for dentists. Whether you are a pediatric dentist or a concerned parent, if you would like to learn more about how to help put children at ease during a dental visit, read on. This article will present three effective strategies for managing dental anxiety in children.

Present information clearly and simply.

It's no secret that children tend to thrive on predictability and clear communication. This is no less true where dentistry is concerned. Explaining what a child may expect during a particular procedure will do wonders to help quell their anxiety. Don't just describe what you will be doing; also explain what sort of sensations the child is likely to feel—for instance, in terms of noises, vibrations, or tastes.

One common strategy for clear communication is known as the tell-show-do method. As its name would imply, this method involves three different phases. First, the procedure is explained using age-appropriate language. Second, the dentist demonstrates for the child how the procedure will be undertaken, generally using a model or dummy. Finally, once the child has absorbed and understood the full arc, the actual procedure is undertaken.

Encourage relaxation exercises.

Sometimes even a clear and cogent explanation isn't enough to subdue a child's anxiety. In that case, guided relaxation often proves more effective. This may be as simple as guiding the child through a deep-breathing exercise, encouraging deep inhalations followed by slow exhalations. Inviting the child to blow bubbles through a bubble wand is a great way to achieve the same overall effect.

More difficult cases of anxiety can be addressed through a regimen of progressive muscular relaxation. This involves instructing the child to tense and relax each of their body's major muscle groups, starting from the toes and working systematically upward. Because this can be a more time-consuming process, consider investing in a pre-recorded audio tape to guide the child through the exercise.

Employ positive distraction techniques.

In certain cases, the most effective way to dispel dental anxiety is to provide a source of positive distraction. This may involve allowing the child to continue playing with a toy they used while in the waiting room. Of course, not all toys will permit this strategy; in that case, try to engage the child in a pleasant discussion about a topic of interest. In addition to distracting the child from their anxiety, this will help to establish rapport.

You can also talk to other professionals, such as Marci Mendola-Pitcher DDS, to see if they have any ideas. 


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Caring for an Elderly Parent With Special Dental Needs

Caring for an elderly parent tends to be tough enough without the added stress of dealing with dental implants or dentures. But, the prospect is not the end of the world—there are many things you can do to ensure that your parent's dental health is not compromised without having to spend a lot of personal time doing the care yourself. Between working with the right dentist, hiring a service provider for part time work, and giving your parent the tools he or she needs to care for his or her own dental health at home, you'll find that dental health for your loved one isn't so tough or time consuming after all. Hopefully you are able to get the support and information you need right here.

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