How to Ease Your Child’s Disdain for the Dentist

Taking your children to the dentist is necessary to keep their teeth healthy and promote good oral hygiene habits. But what do you do when your child has anxiety about it? Dental anxiety does not only affect adults. It can start from early on in childhood. Children do not have the needed understanding, in many cases, of why dentist visits are important, or the comfort of understanding that although it may be a bit uncomfortable, it’s really not something to fear.

In this article, we will explain how to best deal with this problem in children and the importance of talking to your children about visits to the dentist and how they can help children overcome their fears.

The Importance of Taking Your Child to the Dentist Early On

The earlier a child visits the dentist, the better their chances of not developing anxiety around it. It provides your child with the ease and comfort of having a dental “home” where all of their needs will be taken care of with ease. The best case is for your child to visit the dentist at the age of 1 or when the first tooth is visible.


How to Make Your Child Less Afraid of the Dentist

When preparing for a visit, try not to overwhelm your child with too many details. Doing so will raise more questions and add more anxiety about the experience. Keep a positive attitude and keep things relatively non-shallant. This does not mean that you should give them false hope about how everything will go. Be realistic. If your child ends up requiring more than what you have anticipated, this is where anxiety can come in to play. It can break their trust and cause stress.

Start Taking Them Early to Get Them Used to the Experience

Don’t use words like shot, hurt or pain with children. Let the staff introduce their own vocabulary as this will help them navigate more difficult situations. Tell your child that the dentist is looking for things like sugar spots so that they can clean them off of their teeth. Even telling your child that they are going to the dentist to inspect their smile and count the amount of teeth they have can make it sound fun. Positive phrases like “clean, healthy, strong teeth” can make their perception of the visit positive rather than negative.

Bring Them Along to Your Appointment

Seeing Mom or Dad visit the dentist too, and be comfortable with it, can help tremendously. Children, in most cases, want to be big boys and girls like their Mom and Dad. They learn from seeing us do things with ease. It makes them comfortable and eases their anxiety. So where possible, it helps for your child to see that there is nothing to be afraid of. You are the person they trust most in this world. So if you are ok with it, chances are, they will be too.

Show and Tell – What Will Happen During Their Appointment

Using a fun diagram, drawings or a set of pictures (avoid the not-so-pleasant images, obviously) can really help your child understand what the dentist will be doing and make them feel prepared. This way, nothing will be a shock to them when they arrive to have work completed.

Make It a Positive Experience

Remain positive. You don’t have to make a huge deal about it. In fact, we would discourage this. Make sure that you are using child-friendly language, make the experience before, during and after, a positive one. We recommend avoiding bribery due to the fact that children should be taught that visiting the dentist is an important part of life and is good for their overall health. That is the reward, versus a toy or a bribe of some sort.

Stay in the Room During Their Appointment

If you can, stay in the room with your child when they are getting work done. The comfort of having the people they trust most around them when they are afraid, will help them get through procedures with far more ease than having a stranger fiddle in their mouth without Mom or Dad present.

Talk to the Dentist About Your Child’s Fear

Discuss your child’s fear with your dentist. Dentists are fully aware of the impact anxiety can have on both children and adults, and if they understand prior to seeing you, they will go out of their way to apply some comforting tactics to ease your child’s anxiety during the procedure and even before and after.

Ask Your Dentist About Sedation

Sedation can have serious positive benefits for those with anxiety around dentistry. It can help both adults and children overcome fears and develop a much healthier mindset with respect to visiting a dentist and getting work done.

Dental Anxiety in Children Can Be Overcome

Most children can tolerate the experience quite well. If your worries about your child’s anxieties have you avoiding the dentist completely, know that there are options available to you out there that can get your child through dental appointments with ease, stress and pain-free.

Sedation can be all you need to keep you relaxed and calm during your procedure but visiting the right dentist with an understanding of a child’s fears surrounding this can help tremendously.

Speak to your local dentist to determine which steps may be the best to take in your child’s case.