Dentistry For Children: How to Tackle Dental Anxiety

Dentistry For Children: How to Tackle Dental Anxiety

Posted by Dr. Thomas Flavin May 28,2023

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Going to the dentist can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone, especially kids. The sounds of drills and unfamiliar faces in white coats can make even the bravest children feel anxious. Dental anxiety is a common fear among kids that can lead to poor oral health habits, making it crucial for parents and caregivers to know how to manage their child's dental anxiety effectively. In this blog post, we'll share some helpful tips on how you can help your little ones overcome their dental fears and get them excited about taking care of their teeth!

What is dental anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a common fear that many people experience when visiting the dentist. It's an intense feeling of nervousness, unease, or even panic that can cause physical symptoms like sweating, rapid heartbeat, and stomach discomfort.

For kids, dental anxiety may stem from a variety of reasons, such as a previous bad experience at the dentist's office, fear of pain or needles, or simply being afraid of the unknown. Children who have experienced traumatic events in their lives may also be more susceptible to developing dental anxiety.

It's essential for parents and caregivers to recognize signs of dental anxiety in children so they can take steps to manage it effectively. Some common symptoms include crying or clinging to parents during appointments, refusing treatment altogether, and showing signs of fear before scheduled visits.

If left unaddressed, dental anxiety can lead to poor oral health habits, such as avoiding regular check-ups and cleanings, which could result in severe tooth decay, gum disease, and other complications down the line.

Tips for managing dental anxiety

Dental anxiety is a common problem among children that can cause them to feel nervous or scared about visiting the dentist. Fortunately, there are several strategies parents and caregivers can use to help manage dental anxiety in kids.

One effective approach is to prepare your child for their appointment by explaining what will happen during their visit. Talk with your child in advance so they know what to expect and can ask any questions or express concerns they may have.

Another tip is to choose a pediatric dentist who specializes in working with children and has experience helping anxious patients. These dentists often use techniques such as distraction, positive reinforcement, and gentle communication to help ease anxiety.

During the appointment itself, it can be helpful to bring along a comfort item such as a favorite stuffed animal or blanket. This provides a sense of familiarity and security that can help soothe anxious feelings.

In addition, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or visualization exercises before the appointment can also be beneficial. Encourage your child to visualize themselves feeling calm and relaxed while sitting in the dental chair.

Consider rewarding your child for their bravery after the appointment with something special like stickers or a small toy. Positive reinforcement helps build confidence and reinforces positive associations with going to the dentist.

By taking these steps, you can help manage dental anxiety in kids and ensure they receive necessary oral healthcare without unnecessary stress or fear.


Dental anxiety is a common issue among kids. It can make them fearful and anxious about visiting the dentist, which can lead to poor oral health in the long run. But by following some of these tips for managing dental anxiety, you can help your child feel more calm and comfortable during their next visit.

Remember to start early with regular visits to the dentist, talk positively about the experience beforehand, distract your child during the appointment with music or toys, practice relaxation techniques together at home, and consider using sedation dentistry if necessary.

By taking steps to manage your child's dental anxiety now, you are setting them up for a lifetime of good oral health practices and positive experiences at the dentist. So don't let fear hold them back – use these tips to help conquer any anxieties they may have!

To learn more, contact Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis at 4224 Watson Rd, St. Louis, MO 63109, or call (314) 832-1366.

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