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Dental Phobia & Anxiety

Does your child freak out at the idea of going to the dentist? If so, they aren’t alone. Researchers estimate that 16% of school-age children are terrified of the dentist.

Dentists consistently ranked in the top spot—as the most feared healthcare worker. While we don’t believe that is a fair judgment of our kind kids dentist, Dr. Heba Rashed, that doesn’t stop Petite Smiles from offering services that help kids and their family members feel more at ease.

If your child suffers from dental anxiety or dental fear, our pediatric dentist for anxiety and her team are ready to combat this common issue with compassion, coping mechanisms, and whatever it takes to ensure your child can smile from ear to ear.

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Petite Smiles Boutique Pediatric Dentistry exam area with animal picture on wall

Dental Anxiety vs. Dental Phobia

Even though the terms “dental anxiety” and “dental phobia” are casually interchanged, they are two separate problems. Anxiety is the human body’s emotional and physical response when provoked by a scenario that the brain perceives is hazardous—even if it’s not dangerous at all. Dental anxiety is a psychological response to a present or potential dental stimulus. It generally showcases as nervousness towards the idea of dental treatments and dentists.

Dental phobia is more intense (but still very real). It is defined as the fear of the dentist. Unlike dental anxiety, dental fear might induce a panic attack and interfere with day-to-day functions.

But both dental anxiety and dental phobia are serious health issues that can lead to a vicious cycle of neglect and worsening oral health conditions (that ironically won’t get better unless you see a dentist).

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Dental Anxiety and Fear Risk Factors

Sadly, children are susceptible to developing dental anxiety and phobia. What might be worse is that these negative feelings towards the dentist can carry on into adulthood and are likely to pass on their generational behavior to their children. Yikes.

Why are children more at risk for dental anxiety and fear? Here are a few reasons:

  • Poor previous past dental experiences
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Painful major dental procedures
  • General lack of understanding that the dentist’s office doesn’t have to be a scary place

Dealing with Dental Anxiety and Phobia

First and foremost, the first (and arguably the most critical) step for helping kids overcome this issue is meeting a dentist for anxiety patients. Even if taking this first step in dealing with dental anxiety seems small, it can make a HUGE impact.

Before your child’s next pediatric dentistry appointment, Dr. Rashed can list dental anxiety treatment options and strategies to ensure that the visit runs smoothly. For example, she might offer dental anxiety medication to calm nervous or worried young patients safely.

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Dental Phobia Dentist in Lorton, VA

If dental anxiety keeps you from bringing your kid to the dentist for years, it’s worth finding a local dentist you can trust. Although building trust takes time, Dr. Rashed and her team are willing to patiently work with your child to ensure a more compassionate, pleasant kids dental experience. If you have further questions about how we handle children with dental anxiety at Petite Smiles, please call (703)-688-2155 or message us online.

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