My Child is Afraid of the Dentist...Now What?

My Child is Afraid of the Dentist...Now What?


In my last blog, I talked about four ways you can help build trust with a pediatric dentist. The information is helpful for parents of young children as they prepare for the first visit or for parents whose children have had positive dental experiences. But, neither of those situations describe every child. What if your child has already had a negative visit to the dentist or has inherited fear?


Even with a formed perspective on dental visits, it is still possible to help ease your child’s anxiety. Because your child needs to have a lifelong relationship with a dentist, working to correct and realign the outlook your child has with visiting an oral care professional is crucial to their overall health. Below are three ways you can help your child build positive experiences at the dentist:


Talk to Your Child

There are a lot of ways to talk to your child about the dentist, but these conversations shouldn’t be taken lightly or held without preparation. There are several keywords you need to avoid (those which may spark added anxiety for your child). In addition, you need to make sure you don’t get nervous while talking with your child, as this could lead to more harm than good.


Also, make sure you are well-educated on pediatric oral health. Inevitably, your child will have questions. If you hesitate or seem unsure of an answer, your child may interpret that unease as a reason to feel anxiety or fear.


Although there are several things to consider before talking to your child about the dentist, talking to your child about the topic in small amounts and discussing it often are keys to helping ease your child’s mind and worries.


Rely on Their Influencers

Just as you probably look to respected thought leaders and subject matter experts in your own career or when looking for advice on parenting, investing, or other aspects of life, your child places value in select “authorities”. Certainly parents are one such example. However, think of a child’s other influencers. Friends, grandparents, teachers, and even TV characters will have a role in shaping your child’s worldview.


By leveraging the power of this influencer network, you can increase the impact your desired message makes. Share a video of one of your child’s favorite characters talking about the dentist or read a book that illustrates why it’s important in language your child understands.


Lead by Example

Your child looks to you to set the tone in important situations. Your underlying feelings and outward actions regarding dental visits are no exception. In fact, even children under the age of six months are able to perceive context and feelings. By carefully monitoring how and what you say about your own dental appointments will carry a large amount of weight in how your child will view their appointments.