Kusp Pediatric Dentistry

Natural Remedies Dental Anxiety

There are so many natural remedies for anxiety can be implemented to manage dental anxiety relief in children. While there is no hard scientific evidence that has proven the effectiveness of these natural remedies, we use these natural remedies in conjunction with dental behavior management techniques to create a positive experience for your child. One natural remedy we like to implement is lavender aromatherapy for its calming and anxiolytic. We often consider using lavender essential oil or diffusers in the waiting area or treatment room to help calm the patient. These can also be used at home before dental visits. 

Additionally, there are many Herbal Remedies with Calming Properties that have been anecdotally used. It’s important to remember that while these herbs are natural, they may still have interactions with medications and may not be suitable for everyone and need to be assessed for safety in children. It’s best to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified herbalist before incorporating these herbs into your routine. However, here are so very commonly used herbs to naturally manage anxiety:

  1. Chamomile: Chamomile is a well-known herb that is often consumed as a tea. It has calming properties and may help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. However, this can also be used as an iced tea prior to a dental appointment, without sugar. 
  2. Valerian root: Valerian root is a herb that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and sleep. It may help reduce anxiety and help with relaxation and stress reduction.
  3. Lemon balm: Lemon balm is a herb from the mint family known for its calming effects. It may help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of relaxation.
  4. Passionflower: Passionflower is a herb that has been used traditionally for its sedative and anxiolytic properties. Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. 
  5. Rhodiola rosea: Rhodiola rosea is another adaptogenic herb known for its stress-reducing properties. It may help improve mood and reduce stress.
  6. Kava: Kava is a herb traditionally used in the South Pacific for its calming and anxiety-reducing effects. It should be used with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional due to potential liver-related side effects, this is unlikely to be safe in young children but may prove effective in older teens.
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girl giving a thumbs up during dental exam - Kusp Pediatric Dentistry in Beverley Hills, CA

Another easy but effective strategy is deep breathing exercises for kids have shown significant benefits in reducing anxiety and so many other amazing benefits on regulating. Teaching your child simple breathing techniques, such as belly breathing or square breathing, to promote relaxation before and during dental appointments. This can be very helpful if a child deregulates and needs to ground themselves during an emotionally difficult experience. Similarly, we often use Guided imagery and visualization techniques for kids as simple techniques that involve creating positive mental images to distract and comfort children during dental visits. As Dr. Adi always says: “it’s show time!” 

A technique that Dr. Adi uses for herself and her own kids during stressful experiences is mindfulness practices, including mindfulness meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction. There are many kid friendly apps that you can download to help guide you and your child through very effective mindful meditations to ground you and find your zen. When you as a parent participate in your child’s process you are also being a positive influence and supporting their ability to overcome their fears. 

Parental influence plays a vital role in managing a child’s dental anxiety. Scientific literature emphasizes the significance of providing emotional support, reassurance, and positive reinforcement. Positive parenting techniques and reminding and highlighting all your child strengths (rather than coming down on them for what they did not do well or did not do enough of) can facilitate trust and a positive doctor-patient-parent triad. 

And lastly, when you find the right dental home, ask your dentist for the opportunity for pre-visit familiarization and desensitization. We call this a “playdate” where the child can come visit the office just to see the environment, familiarizing the child with the dental environment before their visit can reduce anxiety levels. Arrange pre-visit tours, use dental-themed books or videos, or engage in role-playing activities to desensitize them to dental procedures. Regardless of the approaches, addressing your child’s dental anxiety using natural remedies can be a holistic and gentle approach and we are here to be your partners in a natural way to manage your child’s big feelings!

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