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Ease Your Child's Dental Anxiety: Tots, Teens & Ages in Between

By Jill Feilmeier on February 19, 2015 in Kid's Health

Little boy at dentist playing with dentures

Does your child tremble in terror at the mere mention of a dentist appointment? It's common for children of all ages to fear a dental visit. 

As a parent, there are many ways to soothe the stress. Help your child move from screaming “AHHH!!!” to calmly opening wide and saying, “Ahh…”

Dawn of the Dentist: INFANTS & TODDLERS 

Infants and toddlers experience “firsts” on a daily basis. Once your child turns 1, or within six months of getting their first tooth, it's time to introduce him or her to another first – a dental visit. 

Keep it positive. Talk in a calm, upbeat tone leading up to the appointment. Your child can pick up on your tone and stress level. 

Bring a soothing item from home. A blanket or favorite toy can distract your tot, while making him or her more comfortable. 

Child's Play: CHILDREN 

Your child has undoubtedly visited the dentist a handful of times, which can make every bi-yearly cleaning a stressful event. De-stress their dental experience: 

Choose a kid-friendly dentist office. You may love your dentist, but is it fit for the whole family? Consider taking your child to a different practice that caters to children. Many include colorful waiting rooms, books, toys and video games. Find a pediatric dentist near you. 

Praise your child after the appointment. Remember, this check-up was a big deal to your little one. Express how proud you are of him or her for braving another dentist visit. 

Friday the 13th (year): TEENAGERS 

Like many adults, teens experience dental anxiety too. Your child may be more dramatic in his or her teen years. However, they might be embarrassed to admit fear of an upcoming appointment. 

Talk to your teen. Ask questions and offer advice. What are their expectations? What about the dentist makes them feel this way? You might be surprised at how much talking can help. 

Introduce relaxation techniques. There are many mediation programs that train patients how to relax their muscles. Studies show that these programs help to relieve dental anxiety. 

A dental visit doesn't have to be a nightmare for your child. Be patient and try a variety of age-appropriate methods. Is your child afraid of the dentist? What has worked and what hasn't? Share your advice in the comments section.