How to Help Your Kid Overcome a Fear of the Dentist

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

Is your little one getting nervous about their upcoming dental appointment? Are you worried that your little tyke will continue to develop stress each time they visit their dentist? If so, then you need to learn all that you can about how to help your kids overcome a fear of the dentist.

Doing so can help them prioritize their dental health for the rest of their lives. If you can help them overcome it now, then they won’t delay things like regular cleaning.

See below for an in-depth guide on how to help your kid overcome a fear of the dentist and make those dental visits more enjoyable for everyone.

  1. Find the Right Dentist

Not all dentists are good with children. Heck, not even all pediatric dentists are good with kids. Some of them just don’t have the patience that it takes to treat child after child each day.

If you hire the wrong dentist, then you’re setting yourself up for failure from the start. You need to take some time to ensure that the pediatric dentist is the right fit for your child before you commit to any particular one.

First, start by researching online reviews on local pediatric dentists. Which ones have the best reviews in your area? Which ones have customers that recommend the dentist to others?

Once you compile your list to one or two choices, schedule an initial appointment. This is when you can ask the dentist questions, watch them in action, and see how they and your child get along. Be sure to read this article if you aren’t sure what questions to ask them during your visit.

After the appointment is over, have a conversation with your child and make sure to ask questions In a positive light. For example, ask “what did you like most about the dentist?” instead of “Did you like the dentist?” 

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  1. Have a Sit Down Conversation With Your Child

Generally, when children are scared of something, it’s because they don’t understand the purpose or intent behind going to the dentist. Granted, depending on the age of your child, it might be hard to explain to them the “why” behind the dentist.

Take the time to have a few sit-down conversations with your child about their fear of the dentist. Again, make sure all of your questions are in a positive light. 

Do they understand why they get to go to the dentist? Let them know that the dentist just wants the best for them and is helping them keep their teeth healthy. 

You might also explain that thanks to the dentist, their teeth can stay strong and healthy to eat their favorite meals, such as macaroni and cheese or ice cream. 

Don’t get discouraged if the first couple of conversations don’t amount to much. Keep with it! In the week leading up to their next visit, get the idea into their head.

You also want to help set the expectation for them. Let them know that they’ll get the chance to sit down in a big boy/big girl chair and see all these cool gadgets. Setting the expectation will cause fewer surprises during the trip, which will prevent them from getting too anxious.

  1. Set the Perfect Example

We understand that life gets in the way. It’s hard to prioritize your child’s dental health and your dental health while balancing all the other things in life. 

However, if you think your child doesn’t notice that you aren’t taking visits to the dentist yourself, you’re wrong. They’ll wonder, “Why do I have to go to the dentist when mommy/daddy doesn’t have to?”

Instead, lead by example. Schedule a dentist appointment for yourself and take your son or daughter with your next time. Let them witness you sitting down in the chair, getting a tooth cleaning, and having friendly conversations with your dentist.

Once they see that you’re living out the scenario, they’ll want to follow suit. They’ve seen you go through the process unscathed, now they’ll just copy what you did!

  1. Incentivize Them

The reward of routine dental visits is long-term dental health, but that won’t sell in the eyes of a young child. They need a cool reward that they can relate to!

Give them an incentive to try out the dentist and they’ll be far more likely to go along for the ride and come out of the appointment without any tears.

While some of you might find this as a dangerous precedent for every dental visit moving forward, it certainly defeats the latter: your child having anxiety before, during, and after the trip.

  1. Find a Fun Place

This point goes hand-in-hand with the first point. You can try and hype up the dentist’s office as much as possible, but as soon as your child walks into an office with white walls and magazines, they’ll know that you were trying to trick them.

Rather, make sure that the dentist office you take them to has a fun experience for them. You’ll know it when you see it; toys to play with within the waiting room, kids’ movies on while they wait, a child-friendly dentist that’s excited to see them.

It all makes a huge difference. It will teach them that the dentist is something to look forward to, not to dread.

Help Your Child Overcome Their Fear of the Dentist Today

Now that you have seen an in-depth guide on how to help your child overcome a fear of the dentist, be sure to use this information to your advantage.

Take the time to browse our website for more articles on regular dental visits, as well as many other articles that you will find helpful.

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