How To Help Children With Dental Anxiety

The Prevalence Of Dental Anxiety In Children

Roughly every 1 in 5 children are afraid of visiting the dentist. It is a concern for many parents because they don’t want to see their child suffer, but also because the dental anxiety can be detrimental to their child’s oral health as well. Our dental team has some suggestions that might help!

What Is Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a term used to describe the stress, fear, and anxiety that comes from being in a dental setting. It often results in the delay or avoidance of getting dental check-ups.

Dental anxiety is a completely normal reaction for a child when it comes to visiting the dentist. Even for adults, the environment, the instruments, and the thought of pain can be overwhelming. The biggest concern is that it will impact a child’s oral health because their dental anxiety prevents them from getting routine cleanings. For being able to better help your child through their fear of the dentist, it’s important to understand why they might be nervous. Common reasons include:

• A painful or bad experience
• Daunting sounds and instruments
• Being embarrassed about their teeth
• A lack of control

A young female with dental anxiety
Kid's Dental Appointment

How Can You Help As A Parent?

Most importantly, communication with your child is crucial. Tell your child in advance that they will be having a trip to the dentist in the near future – waiting until the last moment can heighten their anxiety.

Depending on the age and maturity of your child, having a conversation about the importance of maintaining healthy teeth and gums goes a long way. In doing so, you can open the dialogue for them to express their fears of the dentist and you can understand what exactly makes them nervous. If they have questions (which they will), make sure to answer them but without giving too much detail – the dentists that are specifically trained for working with children can help provide more detail.

Aside from open and honest communication, your job is to make your child as comfortable as possible before, during, and after their dental appointment. This might include things like:

  • Providing rewards for going to the dentist
  • Letting them bring things that comfort them
  • Distracting them with a phone or music
  • Being present and communicating with them

How Can Your Dentist Help?

The dentist plays a crucial role in making your child feel comfortable and in helping ease their anxiety. First and foremost, make sure you are seeing either a pediatric or family dentist that has experience in working with children. Dentists that are trained to work with children know how to answer questions about dental procedures in fun and interactive ways to make them sound less threatening.

A dentist that has experience working with children knows how to speak gently to your child in order to keep them calm. Speaking in a soft tone, using simple words, and being playful can do wonders for your child’s dental anxiety. Keeping your child engaged in conversation and not focused on the procedure is a common technique used by the best pediatric dentists. Lastly, your dentist can use positive reinforcement whenever possible, applauding them for their bravery and complimenting them on how well they are doing.

If you know exactly what makes your child anxious about going to the dentist, have a quick conversation with the dentist beforehand to make sure they know what to expect and so that they can plan the most effective methods of interacting with your child.

Children's dentist appointment
A happy family with no dental anxiety

Our Family Oriented Dental Care For Kids

Some dental clinics restrict their practice to specific age groups and not every clinic is trained to work with children. At Preston Dental Centre, we have staff that are specifically trained to work with young children. This ensures that kids have the best chance at having a great first appointment to reduce their anxiety and encourage future visits.

We understand that both kids and adults alike experience dental anxiety and are nervous to go see a dentist. That’s why our team is focused on making your check-ups and appointments as comfortable as possible. By taking care of child’s anxiety, we can take care of their teeth and provide them with the proper oral care that they need. Our dental team has a variety of personalities and backgrounds so that we can find the perfect fit your child. Contact us today for a consultation!

At the Preston Dental Centre, we offer family and kids dentistry and we want to welcome you and your child to join our family. We are here to help your child overcome their dental anxiety and to make their dental visits memorable for all the right reasons.


A modern, centrally located dental office that employs some of the most advanced dental equipment and instrument sterilization techniques makes Preston Dental Centre a unique health care facility. The warm inviting offices, natural light in every room and professional staff will all confirm that PDC is unlike any dental office you have visited before.

Preston Dental Office In Ottawa


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