How to Help Kids Overcome Their Fear of the Dentist

Brunette girl wearing a white turtle-neck sweater looks anxiously to the side due to her fear of the dentist
If your child has a fear of the dentist, it’s important that you help them overcome their anxiety. Optimal dental health is most likely to be achieved with daily at-home oral hygiene AND regular cleanings and checkups at the dentist. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to help you and your kiddo out!

1. Start Visiting Us When Your Child Is Young

By bringing your child to our office early, they’ll get used to the idea of being at the dentist and all that a visit entails. We recommend you start bringing your child to see us by age one (or within six months of when their first tooth erupts) and every six months after that. And even if your child is older than that, we invite you to bring them in! It’s never too late to incorporate regular dental visits into your child’s routine. We have kid-friendly amenities at our pediatric dental office, but we encourage you to have your child bring their favorite stuffed animal, blanket, sweatshirt, lucky charm, etc. to comfort them at their appointment.

2. Explain in Kid-Friendly Language

When getting your child ready for a dental visit, talk to them about it in simple terms so it’s not a mystery. Explain that the dentist will be checking their smile and counting their teeth, but don’t mention too many details that may confuse them. And make sure you aren’t using any words that may scare them like “shot”, “needle”, “drill”, or “pain” that could cause your child anxiety before they even get to the our office.

3. Practice with a Pretend Visit

During imaginative play with your child, set up a pretend visit to the dentist so they can become more familiar with the idea. Hold a mirror up to your child so they can see how a dentist might check their teeth and practice having them open their mouth wide so you can count their teeth. You can even let your child be the dentist by having them look in your mouth or use a toothbrush to brush their doll’s teeth.

4. Don’t Bribe Your Child

Though it may be tempting, don’t bribe your child with sweet treats to go to the dentist. Instead of promising candy or toys, praise your child for their courage and good behavior after their dental visit. Make it a fun outing by pairing it with a trip to the park, museum, or zoo. This positive reinforcement will help them feel brave and more ready to hop into the dentist’s chair again since the experience is associated with good things.

5. Set a Good Example

Teach your child by example that visiting the dentist is vital for your good oral health by scheduling regular visits for yourself! Moreover, show your child that you keep your teeth strong and healthy by brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing every day. Keeping up with dental hygiene as family can encourage your kiddos to become more comfortable with visiting the dentist and taking care of their teeth at home.

Contact us if you have any other questions about helping your child overcome their fear of the dentist!

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