Scared Child in Dental Chair

How to Calm Children’s Dental Fears

Team Pediatric Dentistry

Is your child afraid to go to the dentist? Whether this is their first visit or the fear is a recent development since the last visit, it can be difficult to know what to do. Dental appointments are absolutely crucial for oral health and are a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. Easing a child’s fears now can eliminate dental anxiety for the rest of their life. Try these strategies for calming your child’s fear of going to the dentist.

Explain the Importance of Going to the Dentist

Talk to your child about going to the dentist and why it’s important. Explain that in addition to brushing and flossing your teeth, you need the dentist to clean your teeth really well twice a year. Tell them the dentist is an expert on teeth and that he or she will take good care of yours.

Let Them Know What to Expect

Tell your child a little bit about what will happen at the dentist’s office. Get them to practice opening wide. Explain that the dentist (hygienist) will clean, floss, and brush their teeth with special tools to get them super clean. You can find videos online of kid-approved TV shows where characters visit the dentist, such as Elmo and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. This educational video shows a child’s real-life visit to the dentist.

Answer Their Questions Honestly, But Carefully

Yes, it is important to be honest because you don’t want to tell your child something that turns out to be false, because then you’ve lost their trust. But you don’t want them to think that anything will hurt or taste bad. If you don’t know the answer to a question your child asks you, be honest and tell them that you’re not sure and they will need to ask the dentist. It gives them something to look forward to if they think they will be able to ask the dentist questions and get real answers from the tooth expert.

Avoid Any Negative Words

Try not to use any words like hurt, shot, drill, scrape, or any related words. Stick to positive words like clean and polish and tell them the dentist may want to count their teeth. Don’t tell them any stories about your past dental procedures or any negative experiences you’ve had, not even to try and explain that their visit “won’t be anything like that.” 

Let the Dentist Do Most of the Talking

Pediatric dentists have specialized training and lots of experience working with kids. They know what to say to ease kids fears and anxieties and how to answer their questions in a non-threatening way.

Special Needs Dentistry

Sometimes fear of the dentist is an actual disorder or the result of a medical condition. Many pediatric dentists offer special needs dentistry to treat kids with autism and mental/emotional disorders that result in extreme fear of the unknown. Gentle, compassionate care is necessary for these extraordinary patients.

Tender Smiles 4 Kids Helps Ease Children’s Dental Fears

The way your child’s first dentist experience goes will set the tone for their lifelong attitude about going to the dentist. Bring your child to Tender Smiles 4 Kids to ensure that their first experience is a positive one. Compassionate, caring, and fun staff will help your child feel at ease and even enjoy their visit. 

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We look forward to helping your child develop a healthy opinion of the dentist.