Why Are Most Little Kids Afraid of Dentists?
As kids grow up and try to find their way out into the world, one of the scariest things for them to do is go to the dentist. However, it’s important to note that not all kids are inherently afraid of going to the Pediatric dentists. According to a paper published in Baltic Dental and Maxillofacial Journal, dental anxiety can be found in five to twenty percent of the children’s population.
There can be several reasons for dental anxiety. In the study mentioned above, the researchers tried to determine what psychosocial factors are connected with this fear in children. Authors reported that a lot of this anxiety could be traced back to the parents’ attitude towards dentistry, doctors, oral care, and children’s general understanding of dentistry.
Usually, some children are frightened when the Pediatric dentist comes close to their mouths. Dr. Vivek Aithal at Growing Smiles Orthodontics reported that many are scared of metal objects poking around their teeth especially the braces used by Orthodontists, and most of them are commonly anxious about doctors.
Even as adults, we owe most of our fears to our experiences, especially the experiences we had in our childhood. They shape our reality and the way we see the world. Kids are not an exception to this rule.
Let’s look at a few of the most significant reasons why most little kids are afraid of dentists.
1. Pain Apprehension
The anticipation of pain is popular among people. It stems from a common premise of anxiety that develops in children when their expression of pain is dismissed. As cited by a study published in the British Dental Journal, often when children inform their dentists that they’re experiencing pain, the dentists continue regardless.
It instills a deep-seated perception of pain in children’s brains, and soon they become sure that nobody will listen to them. This happens because many dentists are confident that they are misinterpreting the pain.
However, this extends to the gate theory of pain, which explains that our brains deliberately look for active pain receptors in the body to protect them from the sudden impact. Children catch on to this, and as a result, they get scared during their visits.
Please note that this does not apply to dental fear in all children. In several cases, it’s general anxiety that leads to anticipation of pain and is not associated with their previous visits.
2. Invasion of Privacy
It’s no secret that Pediatric dentistry is intrusive. For example, X-rays, fillings, extractions, etc., can make children feel uncomfortable. While this is limited to the child’s physical embodiment, it can also seem almost too personal for them to handle.
The special dominance of aversion to touch in kids has proven to be one of the more divisive factors behind why most little kids are afraid of dentists. Children take their personal space seriously, but they can’t prevent the invasion of their privacy in some instances. Dentistry is one such case.
3. Loss of Control
The loss of control one experiences when they don’t know what awaits them is enough to bring down adults, so imagine what children must go through! This loss of control is also associated with who usually takes care of them. Children are used to receiving commands from their teachers and parents. But from a stranger, it can be more daunting than usual.
As primary caregivers, we must make sure that our children are safe. It’s also important to remember that their fears are not irrational. You must account for all factors associated with why most little kids are afraid of dentists.