Last week we began a series on dental anxiety. Our first blog dealt with how the media’s stereotype of the dentist has contributed to the phobia many people have regarding the dentist. To read that blog post, click here.

This week we are examining a different cause: Parents. That’s right, the people who teach us from our birth. Many studies have concluded that when a parent is “afraid” of the dentist, this fear is often passed on to their children. Remember that children are very impressionable and will imitate the behaviors of their parents. Therefore, it is important that children can pick up on the most subtle anxious feeling and associate this feeling with the dentist even before they have their first appointment.

So, how can we combat this problem?

There are a few tips and tricks parents can be aware of in order to break the cycle of dental anxiety being passed on to future generations.

First, practice your poker face. Control your fear and nervousness about the dentist. More specifically, when discussing the dentist or dental treatment, pay attention to your facial expressions and the language you use. If you frown or use negative language, a child will still associate a dental appointment with fear and anxiety.

Secondly, before your child has his or first dental appointment, bring him or her to your appointment. While at your appointment, work on conveying this experience in a positive light. That way, you are setting a good example for your child and allowing him or her to see that the dentist’s office is not a horrible or frightening place.

Thirdly, educate your children. Teach your children that with proper hygiene, major, “scary” dental work can be avoided. Additionally, there are many great children’s books and short videos on such outlets as youtube that put dental visits in a good, positive light. Having your child learn about what to expect while at the dentist and the importance of brushing, flossing, and routine dental exams through these mediums will help your children eliminate their fear.

Lastly, research your dentist. Make sure that your dentist is the right fit for you and your children. Many times one way to control dental anxiety is to be sure that the dentist has the right environment and meets all your needs. By building trust, you will feel more relaxed and confident about the treatment you and your children receive.

By following this simple advice, your children will feel more relaxed when visiting the dentist. Additionally, they will be more willing to be more proactive with their dental health. With these messages, dental anxiety may be eliminated for future generations.