How to Help a Child Who Is Scared of the Dentist


Did you know that around 20% of American children have untreated tooth decay?

This is a shocking statistic because tooth decay is entirely avoidable. Dental fear and anxiety are some of the main reasons children can be reluctant to attend even routine checkups.

If you have a child that is scared of the dentist, it is your responsibility to help them address and overcome their fears. We’ve put together a helpful guide on how to help children that are scared of the dentist.

Read on for everything you need to know.

Don’t Delay Treatment

The sooner you introduce your child to dental visits, the less likely they will be frightened by them.

Dentists recommend that you book your child’s first examination as soon as they obtain their first baby teeth. Take them as soon as possible, preferably before their first birthday.

Exposing them to going to the dentist early will help them form positive associations. For example, they might look forward to playing with the toys in the waiting room or getting a sticker afterward.

Use Positive Language

Children are very perceptive to the type of language we use around them. 

If your child asks about the dentist, you should use simple, positive language to explain the benefits of dental cleaning. Avoid mentioning negatives like pain or loud noises, as this gives your child a chance to fixate on them.

Avoid technical language – perhaps just tell them that the dentist needs to count their teeth and clean them. 

Play Pretend

Children learn through play. That’s why make-believe is a good way of getting them accustomed to the concept of visiting the dentist.

Your child is less likely to suffer from dental anxiety if they recognize a theme from play. By connecting dental hygiene to a pleasant learning activity, you can turn a trip to the dentist into something to look forward to. 

Visit a Specialist

Visiting a specialist pediatric dentist can help your child overcome their dental anxiety.

Adult dental practices can be intimidating for young children. By choosing a local dentist for children, you ensure that the practice will have been designed with children in mind. This will include a stimulating waiting room and lots of exciting pictures and colors to distract from the procedure at hand.

The dentists and assistants will be highly experienced in dealing with any questions or anxieties your child may have, allowing them to feel safe and happy.

Scared of the Dentist: How to Help Your Child

So, that’s the 101 on how to help a child who’s scared of the dentist.

Making sure your child is comfortable with dental appointments is crucial for their health and will foster a good attitude to dental care in the future. Our helpful guide shows you where to start.

Did you find this article helpful? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for everything you need to know about parenting, health, lifestyle, and more.

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