Happy Boy At Dentist

How to Help Your Kids to Not Be Scared of the Dentist

Establishing good oral health habits is important, but this is difficult if your kids are scared of going to the dentist! Here are some ideas on how to help control and reduce that fear.

Let Your Kid Open Up to You

When it comes to being afraid, most parents, kids, and child behavior experts will point to the new and the unknown as being a major player. While it may seem bizarre to you that your child is afraid of everyday events and places, keep in mind that while you might have plenty of experience with these things, to your kids it’s all unfamiliar, new, and more than a little scary.

Don’t run roughshod over your kid’s feelings, try to force them to confront their fears without a net, or downplay them. Talk to your child about why he or she is scared of walking into that dentist’s office for the first time and share stories of your own visits to the dentist that turned out just fine in the end. Encouraging them to be honest and upfront about their emotions can lead to conversations about what in particular scares them about visiting the dentist, which makes it easier for you to address. Not only that, but this strategy has additional benefits as it opens up avenues for discussion in the future when your child is afraid of something, or someone, else.

Boy at dentist holding dentures

Reduce the Unfamiliarity

A big part of managing your child’s fear of the dentist is to reduce the amount of unfamiliarity they have with such visits. Trips to the dentist occur much less often than trips to the pediatrician, for instance; where a child may see his or her primary care physician a number of times over the year, the likelihood that they will have met their dentist more than once every six months is slim to none.

You can easily rectify this by simply stopping in at your local dental office for an informal visit, either in the waiting room or reception area or just for a quick office visit that doesn’t lead to any dental examinations. You might need to call ahead and schedule such an appointment beforehand if your dental office is busy, but any oral health practitioner that specializes in children will be happy to help reduce your kid’s fear by hosting several short visits over time if it leads to better dental health in the future.

The Importance of Good Oral Health

Taking steps to ensure your child has good oral health practices from a young age is integral to their long-term dental health. This goes far beyond just making sure they brush and floss twice a day – you’ll also have to build a positive relationship between your kid and your family dental practice so that every future visit isn’t a traumatic experience. Additionally, if you want your child to continue to go to the dentist regularly once they grow into their adult years, eliminating or controlling that fear begins now, while they’re still young.

Naturally, this can be challenging, considering how kids are almost hard-wired to be afraid of the dentist. Yet it’s easy to see that you need to take just a few steps to minimize the impact of fear and uncertainty in your child’s life when it comes to visiting the dentist. As long as you can continually reinforce the positive aspects of dental health and dentist visits, you can minimize or even eliminate that deeply-rooted fear that children sometimes have about visits to the dentist.

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5 comments

  1. So informative but I dont know how I can teach my kids this when im soooo very afraid myself…im extremely scared

    • This is also a tricky one for me, because I am 32 years old and I am still afraid a dentist. I need to force myself to visit the dentist, because I know that it is important. The worst part for me is the injection. Just thinking about a cold, sharp needle in my mouth send chills down my spine. Maybe I am just unlucky, but usually a visit to the dentist is an unpleasant experience. Even when they only take x-rays putting that plastic thing in my mouth hurts.
      Something else on the dentist topic – is it not strange how children always get sweets from the dentist after an appointment. Sugar can cause so much damage to our teeth and then they give children sugar. That does not really make sense to me.

  2. @ Nuraan I share the same childhood phobia, for the life of me I can’t get the courage to go through to the dentist.
    I had 1 bad experience and that was my be all and end all.
    The husband takes my son to the dentist, on both occasions I just played sick I know it sounds bad but I rather not accompany them only to have a negative effect on my son’s experience, I don’t want to cause/instil fear in him therefore preferred not to join.
    Amazingly my boy loved the visits on both occasions….

  3. I think young and old are afraid of visiting the dentist, but it is something that has to be done at least twice a year. Don’t wait until here is pain. Unfortunately that is what happens most of the time, when we are forced to go. Most kids have their first experience when they are in pain and when it must come out or when they’ve had a bad accident and there is blood. It will never be a good experience so it is best to take them when they are very young and they just need to go for a clean or a check up. Prepare them and practice maybe on a doll or maybe on daddy or another sibling on what to expect when you take them to the dentist. I’m talking from experience and my youngest first experience was when he had to go into theater for toothache and had to have it removed surgically. It costed quite a penny and i wasn’t willing to have that needle penetrate his little gums. I can still feel the needle going into my gums when i was a child.

  4. To be honest my kids are less afraid of the dentist than me I was such a baby recently poor dentist almost felt like giving up I guess most of my fears stem from childhood I have crooked teeth and spent a lot of time at the dentist removing my teeth to make way for my permanent teeth alas I never got my braces and still have crooked teeth now I want to change it because my son needs them too therefore I said I will do it with him

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