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Emotional Dentistry: Dentistry With A Mental Health Focus

Child Smiling at Dentist Closeup

In recent years, the rise of mental health awareness has brought attention to the rising cases of mental health disorders among adolescents. Children with emotional disorders often struggle with dental treatment, especially if they face feelings of fear or being out of control in a clinical environment. However, a new subsect of dentistry is emerging to help dentists address these problems head-on and help children get the care they need, and that’s emotional dentistry. 

Challenges of Emotional Disorders and Emotional Dentistry

Children with emotional disorders face significant challenges, as children with these disorders tend to have poor oral health. Due to their conditions, it can be more difficult for children to get the treatment they need. Emotional disorders such as anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, and OCD can create challenging and difficult behaviors that impede their ability to receive dental treatment. 

The links between mental health and dental health are clear – when one area of our health falters, other areas will likely follow. But how can dentists work to help negate these problems and bring more care to their patients? For pediatric dentists, some have begun working with emotional dentistry, also known as empathy dentistry, to address their concerns and fears with emotional support. 

Emotional dentistry is twofold. It addresses cosmetic concerns related to a person’s smile and addresses the patient’s overall well-being in one neat package. It works with effective communication and empathy skills to achieve proper dental care. For children, this means that during times when they are afraid, they can express their fears, and their pediatric dentist can work with them to support and uplift them by understanding their emotions.

By working with their patients and understanding their mental health better, dentists can effectively provide the following: 

  • Listening Skills: Giving children the chance to engage in two-way conversations can allow them to express their concerns more clearly. It can be used to help them through their anxieties and allows your pediatric dentist to provide positive acknowledgment for their words. 
  • Empathetic Thinking: In taking the time to listen, dentists can work to address issues upfront and create a more positive setting for the patient, which includes ways to avoid triggering any negative emotions and experiences and helping children respond differently to the dental setting. 
  • Empathetic Feeling: Lastly, feeling empathy allows the dentist to express greater understanding and relate to their patients, including children. If the child is afraid of the dentist due to the idea of the drill and tools, then it’s a perfectly understandable fear. 

Face Emotional Challenges With Your Pediatric Dentist 

Through these skills, emotional dentistry provides pediatric and family dentists with a gateway for making meaningful progress with their patients. Signs of emotional disorders, special needs, and medically compromised individuals need dental care like everyone else, and the best way for children to get the care they deserve most is through a pediatric dentist. Through your pediatric dentist, you can make sure that your child gets the best care possible with the help of a compassionate and professional team. 

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