Scared of the Dentist: 5 Steps to Ease a Child’s Dental Anxiety

Little girl with anxiety showing her teeth to dentist.

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Plain and simple – some kids have dental anxiety. They are flat-out scared of the dentist. They don’t like the sounds of the drill, the smell of the office, or the medical outfits we wear. Guess what? Your child is not alone! 

It’s important to understand why your child might be anxious about going to the dentist. Perhaps there’s a memory of a past painful visit, the idea of tools going into their mouth or general anxiety around new situations.

“Getting your child into a dentist early in life and keeping them on a regular schedule for cleanings is the best way to help them so that they are not so scared of the dentist.” said Dr. Lela Farmer, lead dentist at Scuba Smiles for Kids. 

Here are 5 easy steps to ease anxiety and ensure your child has successful visits to their dentist. 

Keep it Simple

A quick, little conversation can go a long way. Before you head to your appointment, talk to your child about why they are going to the dentist. Let your child know you will be there with them the whole time. Explain the dentist will be brushing their teeth and making sure their teeth are clean and healthy from top to bottom.

Be careful not to overdo the explanation. Sometimes, too much detail may make their anxiety worse.  Even while explaining things, you might consider avoiding words like “pain,” “hurt,” and “scary”.  

Take a Tour 

If it is your child’s first dental appointment, perhaps a quick visit to the office or the website before the big day may help alleviate any fears. Taking a tour of the dentist’s office can help create a sense of comfort and familiarity with the sights, smells, and faces when your child returns for their cleaning.

Be sure to talk to your dentist about any anxiety your child is feeling about their upcoming visit. They will certainly work with you and your child to make sure it a successful experience. 

“We know that there are children who are scared of the dentist. We have worked hard at Scuba Smiles to alleviate those fears by creating a calming and fun environment made just for kids. We’ve created an office space built to look like the depths of the sea that helps distract children from their dental procedure,” said Dr. Farmer.  

Little teaching. Big Success. 

Explain to your child why it’s so important to visit a dentist. The dentist is there to help keep their teeth clean and healthy. The dentist can help make sure their smile is always bright and that cavities stay away. When your child understands why it is important to go to a dentist, they should eventually come to acknowledge that their next appointment is no big deal, and just a routine part of their lives.

It’s also a great idea to brush your teeth together as a parent and child, while explaining that this is what the dentist will do to their teeth. Your child will also be watching how you brush your teeth and imitate the great brushing example you are setting for them. 

Let’s play dentist

Another great way to help ensure that your children is not scared of the dentist to play games at home that involve a dental visit. Pick up a toy dentist kit. You can even read them books about going to a dentist.  Fun, laughter and roleplaying at home may be just the ticket to a fear-free dental visit. 

Bring a stuffed friend

If your child’s favorite stuffed teddy bear goes to bed with them, perhaps their friend can tag along with them to their dentist appointment. Having a favorite stuffed companion along can add security and comfort during your child’s visit. 

Scuba Smiles is dedicated to making sure every child has a positive experience. Our colorful aquarium and our staff of professionals know exactly how to make your child’s dental experience a great one every time they come through our doors.” said Dr. Farmer.