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How to lessen a child's fear of the dentist?

My 7 year old son is scared of the dentist. I want him to feel more comfortable going. How to lessen a child's fear of the dentist?

9 Answers

See a pediatric dentist who knows how to manage children with anxiety.
One advice I give to parents is to mentally prepare their children for a dental appointment by telling them in advance about the appointment and what the appointment entails. The dentist can always talk to you about strategies and also options for in the office like sedation for when treatment is necessary.
Have you seen a pediatric dentist?? We are specially trained to help your son overcome his dental phobia. Having this fear is very common and something we deal with every day. Our offices are designed to be a fun and colorful environment so that every child enjoys their dental visit. To start, I would recommend that are you doing a good job on his oral home care by helping brush his teeth twice a day and flossing.
I would let him watch you have your teeth cleaned and then see that it’s not a big deal you might want to follow through also I’d like to give children homeopathic remedies for fear of the dentist. The two remedies I like to use gelsemeum or argenticum nitricum.The first one is for fear of the dentist take three pallets the night before and three pallets one hour before appointment the second one is for anticipation anxiety and take three pallets the same way. The potentcy or )strength can be 30 C 200 C or 1M or 10M.Choose one or the other based on what you think the problem may be. I also like to use TLC and laughing gas on children as it relaxes them quite a bit

Best Regards,
Dr. Mark Berkowitz

Sorry to hear about your child's fear of the dentist. The best way to approach a situation like this is to think about the experience your child has at the dentist from their point of view. Most children do not like something new so they view it as an annoyance at first. Then the child has several people sticking their fingers in his/her mouth (aka personal space). Another experience to consider is what your behavior is like. When children are in a strange environment they tend to refer to their parents for clues. If the parents are tense then they will be tense. Finally, look at the overall experience. If the child has to have a tooth removed on the first visit it is going to be very difficult to get that child to like going to the dentist; however, if they have many pleasant experiences then the child associates the dentist with a positive outcome.

Hope this helps and good luck.

William F. Scott IV, DMD
There are a couple things that might help. I would definitely have him see a good pediatric dentist. They have techniques and instruments that are much more kid friendly. Sometimes, pediatric dentists will offer "happy visits". The kiddo is able to come in, walk around the office, perhaps sit back in the chair and then get a prize. At my office I offer this for free and the idea is to positively reinforce every visit and to demonstrate that visits can be easy. Another option that can be done at home is to read "So-and-So's First Dental Visit". There are a lot of books written about the subject and if there is a cartoon character that he likes there is a chance there is a book about his or her first dental visit. Another option is to have him accompany you to your dental visits to show that it is a common, normal occurrence. Finally, I would avoid scheduling him at the dentist too close to a pediatrician visit. Sometimes kids can associate vaccines with other health care professionals which can lead them to be more anxious. 

Marc D. Thomas, DDS
This is a common occurrence. Often as parents, we want to help our children overcome obstacles and try to talk them through many of life's difficult situation. In most cases, this is in the best interest of the child. However, I find often times parents will give their children more information than they need, leading to increased fear levels. For example, many parents use the word "shot" to prepare the child for a restorative appointment. This will give the child unnecessary fear and they will relate "shot" with immunizations. Dentists have a multitude of ways to make the process of getting numb easy for the children and many times they do not even know they had an injection. I would recommend discussing this fear with the front office team member helping you schedule your son's appointment. In my practice, for patients with anxiety, the first appointment is only for x-rays and an exam. The appointment is made to be fun for the child and get them familiar with the office and process. I would let your son know they are only going to take pictures of his teeth and look at them. If he is comfortable while in the office, it is likely they will be able to do a cleaning at the time of the appointment, but let the office team work him up to that.
Take him to the dentist every 6 months for cleaning and check ups. He will get more relaxed with regular easy visits. He will also be less likely to get cavities with regular fluoride treatments. Thanks. Dr. Price
The first thing to know is why your son is fearful? What were his previous dental experiences. Based on that it is important for the dentist to be honest and compassionate with your child and tailor his experience based on that information.