What to do if your child is afraid of the dentist

Posted Sep 19th, 2019 in Helpful Tips for Parents, Preparing Your Child, Pediatric Dentistry

What to do if your child is afraid of the dentist

For some children, visiting the dentist can be especially frightening, but there are ways parents can help to reduce their child’s dental anxiety. Here are a few suggestions from our Langley children’s dentists.


We know that for some children visiting the dentist can be scary, that's why at Smile Town in Langley we have created a friendly and cheerful office environment to help children relax and have a positive dental experience.

That said, there are a number of things that parents can do to help put their child at ease even before they arrive at the office. Here are a few ways to help your child feel less afraid of visiting the dentist:

Start Young

The earlier you begin bringing your child to the dentist, the more 'normal' the experience will seem. Starting your child young will give them a chance to get used to visiting the dentist and allows them to become familiar with the office surroundings, the team of dental professionals, and what happens when they visit.

It's a good idea to bring your child to the dentist for their first appointment before their first birthday, or within 6 months of their first tooth erupting. This will help your child to become comfortable visiting the dentist, and also allow the dentist to identify any oral health issues early before they become more serious.

Prepare Your Child Ahead of Time

Talk to your child about their upcoming dentist appointment. Don’t get into too much detail, just keep it simple. Mention that the dentist is going to count their teeth and check their smile, and be sure to use positive phrases such as 'clean, healthy, strong teeth'. Avoid using words that could increase your child's anxiety such as 'needle' or 'pain'. 

Be positive, but be realistic. Your child may lose trust in you, and in the dentist, if you tell them that everything will be fine, but then they wind up needing a treatment.

Read books about going to the dentist. There are a number of age appropriate story books that you can read with your child to help them understand what will happen at the dentist. By choosing a book with your child's favourite characters you can help them to view a trip to the dentist in a positive light.

Hide Your Own Anxiety

Even if you get anxious or nervous about visiting the dentist, put on a brave casual face when talking to your child about the dentist. It's also a good idea to avoid telling giving your child too much detail about your own past dental experiences. Stay relaxed and positive, even if that's not really how you're feeling.

Be Prepared For A Few Tears

We understand that no matter how well you prepare, your child might begin to cry, squirm, whine, or resist treatment. Prepare yourself for this possibility and remain calm. Our children's dentists and team of dental professionals treat children all the time.  We know how to help you and your child when difficult behaviour happens.

If you have more questions about how to help your child feel less afraid of the dentist, give us a call. We’d be happy to help!

Download our FREE SmileTown Children's Activity Booklet.

This fun resource will help your kids get ready – and excited – about visiting the dentist.


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