Managing Dental Anxiety in Children: Strategies for Success

Posted on October 24, 2023

Kids often have irrational fears that span from the make-believe to the everyday occurrence. One of the more common fears for children is the fear of the dentist. If your child is scared to go to the dentist, you may wonder how to get them to sit in the chair for their checkup or filling.

To help your child overcome their fear of the dentist, you need to know why they’re scared and what steps can help ease their anxiety.

Reasons Why Kids Are Scared

There’s no one reason why children are afraid of the dentist. However, several reasons top the list of those most common. It’s important to see if you can pinpoint the reason behind your child’s fear.


Here’s a list of some of the most common reasons a child might be scared of the dentist:


  • Their parent is scared of the dentist
  • They had a bad first experience at the dentist
  • Movies or TV shows that show dentists as scary
  • A fear of pain
  • Their gagging reflex or choking
  • A loss of control while in the dental chair
  • A fear of needles

Your child will have personal reasons for their fear, but this is a good place to start when pinpointing their concerns.

Tips for Helping a Child Overcome Their Fear

Going to the dentist isn’t something your child can avoid just because they’re afraid. However, you can approach the trip in a way that can ease their fears instead of magnifying them.

More than anything, you need to focus on clear communication and positive reinforcement throughout the experience. A day or so before your child’s appointment, give them a heads-up that they will see the dentist. Keep the explanation simple and positive, avoiding trigger words that can be scary, like “drill” or “shot.” Let your child communicate their fears to you so you can clearly and positively tell them what they can expect.

At the visit and right after, build your child up with positive reinforcements about what they did well at the dentist. You don’t want to bribe them with a prize, but you want them to feel proud of their accomplishments.

If things don’t go well, stay calm and don’t react in anger. Instead, calmly talk about what scared them after the visit to see if you can help prevent the issue from happening again.


Other ways to help ease your child’s fears may include the following:


  • Start dental visits at a young age.
  • Go to a pediatric dentist.
  • Teach your child why the dentist is important.
  • Be a great role model.
  • Play dentist at home.
  • Read books or watch videos about the dentist.
  • Schedule appointments at times when your child is more likely to be cooperative (AKA not at nap time).



The dentist can be intimidating to children because they don’t know what to expect. Talk to your child about their visit and bring them to Nevada Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry, where we help children relax and have a happy experience.

Book a free consultation today!
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Great things come
To those who smile.
Start here.