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Ease Dental Anxiety at Every Age

Up to 15% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of fear .

Dental anxiety affects all ages, and is common for children . But there are ways for you and your kids to face the dentist with confidence. Try these tips for patients of all ages:

• INFANTS AND TODDLERS

° Start early.

By taking a child to the dentist before the age of 1, a child can learn to trust the dentist from an early age, preventing future anxiety. And it starts good dental habits early.

° Keep it positive.

Talk in a calm, upbeat tone leading up to the appointment, and explain what to expect. Tone conveys stress level, and kids can pick up on yours.

° Bring a soothing item from home.

A blanket or favorite toy can distract your tot, while making him or her more comfortable.

• CHILDREN

Your child has undoubtedly visited the dentist a handful of times, but the bi-yearly cleaning can be a stressful event. De-stress their dental experience: 

° Choose a kid-friendly dentist office.

Consider taking your child to a practice that caters to children. Many include colorful waiting rooms, books, toys and video games. Find a pediatric dentist near you. 

° Praise your child after the appointment.

Remember, this checkup was a big deal to your little one. Express how proud you are of him or her for braving another appointment.

• TEENAGERS

Like many adults, teens experience dental anxiety too. However, they might be embarrassed to admit fear of an upcoming appointment. If you notice your teen resisting a dental appointment, it may help to:

° Talk to your teen. 

Ask questions and offer advice. What are the expectations? What about the dentist makes him or her fearful? You may be surprised how much talking can help. 

° Introduce relaxation techniques.

Learning to calm anxiety is an important life skill. Approaches like deep breathing to physical exercise to acupuncture can help relieve dental anxiety.

• ADULTS

We may be older and wiser, but many adults still struggle with going to their appointment every 6 months. Face your fear with two simple :

° Tell the dentist

Sharing your concerns with the dentist and dental staff will help them adapt their treatment to your needs and put you both more at ease while you’re in the chair.

° Take care of your teeth

Prevention can help make sure the dentist has as little as possible to do during the visit. Brushing and flossing regularly and avoiding sugary foods and drinks are important keys to healthy teeth

A dental visit doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Do you have any techniques you use to overcome your fear? Share your advice in the comments section.