Easing Dental Anxiety in Children: What Your Dentist Can Do

Easing Dental Anxiety in Children: What Your Dentist Can Do

Going to the dentist in Mesa can be stressful for people of all ages, but certain children may really struggle with fears associated with dental visits. Many children have a hard time when faced with new situations, and when you add in the sights, smells, and sensations of a dental visit, many kids just can’t cope. If you add in a mischievous schoolmate who exaggerated the misery of a past dental visit to your child, you can have a youngster on your hands who may cry, worry, or lose sleep over a dental visit.

If you’ve never experienced dental anxiety, it can be difficult to relate to a fearful, tearful child. However, don’t discount your child’s fears just because they are small.  Pediatric dental anxiety is very common, with some statistics indicating that almost 20 percent of children experience this fear.  If your child is afraid of going to the dentist, a day full of worry, tears, and melt-downs is not inevitable. A good, child-friendly dentist in Phoenix will be willing to help your child become comfortable in many different ways.

Early Dental Visits: The Preschool Years

Early Dental Visits: The Preschool YearsDuring the preschool years, you can start off dental visits in the right way. During this time period, small children likely have never heard of painful dental treatments, so they may be more open to the idea. Make an appointment with your dentist when your child is three or four years old. If they are hesitant, the dentist may ask you as a parent to lie in the chair and demonstrate what will happen when your child takes a turn. The dentist may allow you to hold them on your lap, and do this first examination upright, rather than lying back in the chair.

School Aged Kids: Typical Strategies for Cleanings

School Aged Kids: Typical Strategies for CleaningsDentists have many tricks up their sleeves for helping school aged kids relax in the dentist office. First, a good dentist is open to the idea of a “meet and greet” kind of appointment where your child can simply meet everyone, look around at the dental office, and experience this new environment without the pressure of a dental exam. Ask your dentist if you can have this kind of an appointment before your child has an exam. Second, dentists have learned that deep breathing can help many patients, both pediatric and adult, to reduce anxiety.

Of course, many children don’t understand the concept of deep breathing, but most kids do understand how to blow bubbles. The simple act of blowing  bubbles helps children breathe deeply, reducing anxiety. Additionally, the fun of blowing and popping bubbles can distract a child from their worries.  Dentists also understand that kids do much better when they know what to expect. A good dentist will narrate what is being done, name the tools used, and explain to the child what they are likely to feel at each step of the dental appointment.

Hard Appointments

Hard AppointmentsSometimes there are appointments that will be slightly unpleasant for your child. A  good dentist will try to make them as comfortable as possible for these visits. They will explain what’s going to happen without using scary words. For example, rather than telling a child that the dentist will give the child a shot for pain, they may simply explain that medicine will be given to help the procedure not hurt.

Experienced dentists have learned to conceal needles and syringes from a child’s view and work quickly before they get upset about the strange, uncomfortable sensations that come with certain procedures. Dentists will often have headphones to drown out the sound of a drill or a video playing within view of the child to distract him from these procedures.


Dentists who understand kids know that ending the appointment on a positive note is crucial, even if the child was difficult. Having a good ending experience sets the stage for a good appointment next time. Most dentists have a treat basket or bowl where kids can receive small toys, stickers, or other treats at the end of the appointment.


While some parents choose dentists who specialize in pediatrics, an excellent family dentist will be able to provide care for the whole family. Dental anxiety is no reason to allow your child to avoid going to the dentist. Teach your child while they are young that dental visits are no big deal. The more they go to the dentist without terrible results, the more likely they will be to avoid experiencing dental anxiety as an adult.