Taking Fear Out of Your Child’s Dental Appointment

  • Dental Health   •   December 17, 2019

Most children can accept dental appointments as a normal part of life—and some even think they’re fun! However, some kids become worried about their upcoming appointments and may even have trouble sleeping the night before—especially if they have a painful tooth or a bad experience elsewhere. Here are some tips to help your child stay calm and perhaps learn to enjoy his or her appointment.

Try this at home:

  • Model positive behavior when you go to the dentist, even if you are feeling anxious. Kids are very perceptive and if Mom or Dad doesn’t like going, they won’t either
  • Take your child to your dental cleaning appointment so he or she can watch you have your teeth cleaned. They can even taste our special toothpaste!
  • Speak positively about your child’s upcoming appointment
  • If they are worried, suggest to your child that she think about something like a special birthday party or celebration to help distract her during her exam
  • Celebrate their dental appointment with a fun reward for “being brave” (if they’re anxious) such as a trip to the park, a pack of stickers or other favorite treat
  • Please let us know in advance if your child is concerned about his or her appointment so we may talk with you in advance if needed

How we keep it positive:

  • We encourage kids to bring their devices for listening to music. We also have noise-cancelling headphones and a dental chair where children can watch part of a movie or show during their cleaning or procedure.
  • We will engage your child to help him or relax. Questions about his favorite activities, asking how old they are, or what they like to do with his friends will help him learn that we have a genuinely friendly, caring environment
  • We will ask about their concerns and answer them as truthfully as possible. Questions like “will it hurt?” are answered in ways that convey that we don’t want them to feel any pain, but they might feel a little pushing or vibrating. If your child does feel pain, we want to know about it!
  • We can give your child a signal, like raising his or her hand, if he does feel pain or simply needs a break
  • We will check in with your child frequently to see how he or she is doing
  • We will explain to her what to expect, whether there will be loud sounds, vibrations or even a new taste or smell. We’ll let her see some of our special tools and she can see her teeth on our computer monitor
  • We never use words like “needle” or “drill” but we choose gentle terminology for all our patients—children and adults!
  • We can also help you determine if your child will do better with you in the waiting room or close at hand

If your child continues to experience anxiety, please talk with us. We’re here to help!