Early Dental Care Creates Fear-Free Adult Patients

Maybe you are one of the 30 percent of people who are afraid of the dentist, or one of the 10 percent who have odontophobia—a paralyzing fear of the dentist.  Most fear is traced to a negative dental experience in childhood, often with techniques no longer used.

phoenix dental emergencyOne of the dangers of having dental fear is that parents can pass it on to their children—by not taking the steps that creates a positive dental experience. “The easiest way to help children develop positive ideas about dental care is to help them prevent decay in the first place,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dental office. “If the first visits are checkups that introduce a child to dental checkups that are interesting and teach tips to keep teeth and gums healthy, the child learns trust instead of fear.”

Dr. Ford’s office environment is built on creating trust in her adult patients. The cheerful environment, professional approach, and careful explanation of all procedures and various options create patient-dentist trust.  “A patient who trusts his or her dentist experiences less stress, and lowered stress reduces pain,” explains Dr. Ford.

How can you, as a parent, start your child on the fear-free path? First, take your child to a pediatric dentist before they are a year old. The American Association of Pediatrics, quoted in WebMD, reports “a visit to a dentist is recommended within 6 months of when your child’s first tooth comes in but no later than your child’s first birthday.” An infant who is used to going to the dentist is not going to be afraid, because many problems are prevented.

“A child who learns proper dental care while learning how to hold a spoon—or toothbrush–accepts it all as learning about the world,” says Dr. Ford. “And good dental habits learned early pave the way for continued care into adulthood,” she adds.

By the time a child is seven years of age, a pediatric dentist can determine if there will be enough room for the 12-year molars. If not, simple orthodontic devices can be fitted to create enough room. Without a tooth-crowding problem, decay can be controlled more easily. [Link to “What to Expect on Your Dental Hygiene Visit” from April, 2012.] The simple act of taking your child to the dentist early can lay the foundation of a lifetime of sparkling smiles and easy dental visits. 

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