How to Manage Dental Anxiety in Children

Frequent dental checkups are essential to ensure your child’s teeth remain healthy and their oral hygiene stays up to par. But, as many parents know, children aren’t so easy to convince. To say that kids are often reluctant to visit the dentist is a bit of an understatement. 

When a child expresses frustration at the idea of going to the dentist, it’s typically indicative of very real anxiety. In this article, we’ll discuss some ways to manage dental anxiety in children to make your child’s next checkup a more pleasant experience. 

Start Checkups From a Young Age

One of the best ways to combat dental anxiety in your child is to be proactive. Attending dental checkups early and often will help your child to get used to the dentist. They will come to see cleanings as a routine part of life, rather than something scary and uncertain. 

The best time to schedule your child’s first dental appointment is around six months after their first tooth erupts. During this initial exam, your child’s dentist will do everything they can to ensure your child is happy and comfortable. 

After the first exam, schedule a checkup every six months. Besides helping the doctor to ensure your child’s teeth are developing correctly, these consistent exams help your child to understand the dentist as a regular part of life, and not someone to fear. 

Talk to Your Child About What to Expect

Having an open and honest dialog with your child can go a long way toward calming their nerves before a trip to the dentist. 

Like with adults, anxiety in children stems from uncertainty. Letting your child know exactly what to expect from their dental exam can help to dispel any uncertainty that may be causing them fear or frustration. 

The following are a few ways to help foster healthy conversation about the dentist with your child:

  • If your child asks questions about the dentist, be patient, answer them thoroughly and thoughtfully. 
  • Reassure them that everything is going to be fine, and it will all be over relatively quickly. 
  • Remind them that everyone goes to the dentist, including you and their friends. This helps make the experience more relatable. 

Find a Family Dentist

Children are extremely observant. Having your own rapport with a dentist and their team helps to create a more relaxed atmosphere for your child. They will become more comfortable seeing that you’re comfortable and begin to mirror the trust they see you exhibiting with others in the office. 

This is why it’s important to find a family dentist you trust. You want a dentist who is attentive and kid-friendly, who knows you and your child and does their best to make the two of you feel comfortable and listened to when you visit. 

Building these relationships takes time, and requires more than one or two dental visits. So, find a family dentist you like and stick with them. Make sure to schedule your own cleanings every six months. Bring your child along and make a point of maintaining a friendly conversation with the office staff. Before long, your child will come to see their dentist not as a stranger, but another friendly face.