As tweens are dealing with a lot of changes to their bodies and lives on a regular basis, any additional stress can be hard to handle. When kids between the ages of 10 and 12 get anxiety about going to the dentist, there are a number of things that parents can do to help kick anxiety to the curve and get them ready to go to the dental office.
Confidence Invites Scrutiny
When tweens are proud of how good their teeth look, they are more likely to want to go in for their regular dental check-ups. Kids who take care of themselves and their oral healthcare each day are more likely to get a clean bill of dental health. Parents should encourage their almost-teens to take the following steps each day.
Tweens should brush their teeth at least two times per day, but ideally, they should do so after every meal.
Any orthodontic appliances, such as retainers, should be cleaned at least once per day. The young person's dentist or orthodontist may recommend a specific care schedule that should be followed.
Tweens should limit how many sweets and sugar-sweetened sodas they enjoy.
They should floss thoroughly at least once per day, being sure to go between each tooth to remove plaque from building up.
When young people want to chew gum, they should chow down on gum that's made with xylitol. Unlike sugar, which can cause cavities, xylitol helps prevent them. According to the California Dental Association, it does this by preventing the bacteria from sticking to one's teeth.
Reassurance Is Golden
Although most tweens want to be seen as adults and treated as such, they are really in between childhood and adolescence. They may switch between levels of maturity in a flash. Parents should be sensitive to a tween's fears by reassuring them about the following common dental fears.
Pain – Although a tween may have been to the dental office many times in the past, a fear of pain can start when switching dentists or after a change in the person's life. Talk about the things that the dentist will do to prevent pain. Many dental care professionals now offer rub-on lidocaine creams before giving a pre-filling shot to numb the pain. That can even prevent any sting from the needle.
Loss of Control – Sometimes young people feel especially ill at ease about going into a dental office because they fear losing all control. While they do need to be cooperative, parents should help kids recognize the power that they have during the visit, such as being able to ask for more medicine to numb their mouth if it's needed and being able to ask any questions they have before agreeing to oral health care treatment.