How to Help Kids With Dental Anxiety

how to help kids with dental anxiety

NOT MUCH IS better in the world than the smiles of our kids, and we have to work hard to keep those smiles healthy. Don’t let dental anxiety get in the way of that. Regular dental visits are a crucial part of a lifetime of good dental health, and that should start early on. If your child’s next dental visit will actually be their first, we’re here to put you at ease and give you a good idea of what to expect and how to prepare.

Kids Can Experience Dental Anxiety Too

A third of American adults struggle with severe enough dental anxiety that it stops them from going to the dentist, but kids can deal with fear of the dentist too. New things are often scary for young children, and maybe an older family member has already put frightening images in their mind by describing an unpleasant experience they had. Kids are also perceptive and will notice if their parents have negative feelings about the dentist even if you didn’t say anything directly.

Dental anxiety in childhood is a common concern that many parents and caregivers face when it comes to their children’s oral health. This anxiety can manifest in various ways, from mild uneasiness to severe fear, and it can make dental visits challenging for both children and their dental care providers.

Where Does Dental Anxiety Come From?

One of the primary factors contributing to dental anxiety in children is the fear of the unknown. For many youngsters, a visit to the dentist may be their first experience with a medical professional outside of a pediatrician’s office. The unfamiliar environment, dental instruments, and the prospect of an examination or treatment can naturally evoke feelings of apprehension. Additionally, hearing stories from peers or siblings about their dental experiences, especially if they were negative, can further fuel a child’s dental anxiety.

The good news is that pediatric dentists like Dr. Vera are specially trained to handle and alleviate dental anxiety in young patients. They create a child-friendly atmosphere in their practices, using colorful and welcoming decor, gentle language, and a compassionate approach to help children feel at ease. Moreover, many pediatric dentists offer techniques such as “tell-show-do,” where they explain procedures in a non-threatening way, show the instruments, and then perform the procedure, gradually desensitizing children to the dental experience.

By addressing dental anxiety in childhood and providing positive dental encounters, pediatric dentists play a crucial role in establishing a foundation for a lifetime of good oral health and stress-free dental visits.

You Can Help Your Child Have a Positive Mindset About Dentists

There are many things parents can do to help their children have a positive mindset when it comes to going in for a dental checkup. We can help once you arrive at our practice, but before that, it’s up to you!

  • Begin early. Kids can benefit from dental visits as soon as they have teeth! Starting early makes it easier to build a trusting relationship with the dentist.
  • Play pretend to help you explain what will happen (if your child is very young). You could play the role of the dentist and show them how their visit can be fun and interesting.
  • For older children, simply explain. Take the mystery out of the dental visit, because kids are more comfortable when they understand what’s happening. Give a quick explanation of what dental visits are like and why they matter for their teeth.
  • Teach your child how important dental hygiene is. If kids know that brushing and flossing are helping keep their teeth healthy, they will be able to appreciate the dentist more.
  • Bring them to meet the dentist in advance! You can help make the first appointment much less stressful by doing a meet-and-greet first. If the dentist isn’t a stranger anymore, the experience won’t be as stressful!
  • Accompany your child. No amount of information can substitute for the comforting presence of a loved and trusted adult. If you stick by, you’ll be able to offer support and encouragement through the early visits.

Here’s a video to help explain the dentist to your child:

We’re Excited to Meet Your Child!

We cannot overstate the importance of making your child’s first dental visit a good one, and if you’d like more suggestions for ways to help your child avoid dental anxiety and the issues that come with it, we’re here to help. We also welcome your questions about your child’s dental care. Make sure to get directions before heading to our practice in Worcester, MA.

We look forward to helping make the first checkup fun and easy!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.