Children who experienced trauma as a result of past dental visits or who have had or are experiencing other trauma, such as child maltreatment, homelessness, or violence, are more likely to be afraid of dental visits and their families are less likely to keep their appointments for dental visits, compared to children who have not experienced trauma. Thus, they have more untreated tooth decay than children who have not experienced trauma. In addition, children who have experienced or are experiencing trauma are more likely to distrust adults, including oral health professionals. They may also become retraumatized from sitting close to an oral health professional or having to recline while receiving care. These experiences can make it difficult for Head Start staff to help families seek oral health care for child.
Tips and Strategies Related to Traumatic Experiences and Oral Health
- Learn about how trauma impacts children and their families, and adopt trauma-informed practices and strategies that create physical and emotionally safe spaces for families.
- Find a dental team for the family that follows principles of trauma-informed care.
- Role-play visiting a dentist and dental hygienist with children and their families who have experienced or are experiencing trauma.
- Discovering the Impact of Stress on Oral Health
- Talking with Children About Dental Visits
- Using Culturally Responsive Practices to Promote Oral Health
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Last Updated: June 20, 2023