Common Dental Fears: And How to Overcome Them

Woman dentist calming kid patient with gamesDental anxiety is very common in both adults and children.  More than half of all dental fears start during childhood.  About ⅓ of all children experience some form of anxiety or fear when visiting the dentist.  Fortunately, these fears can be overcome with help from you and the dental staff.  Pediatric dentists are not only trained in tooth care, but in how to help children have a positive experience.  But why are children afraid to visit the dentist? Below are five common reasons why children experience dental anxiety.  

Horror Stories

The media is full of horror stories about going to the dentist.  There are many songs, movies, comedy sketches and books that depict dentists as scary, mean, or even maniacs.  Even the family-friendly movie “Finding Nemo” depicts dentist visits as scary and painful, with the patient screaming as the dentist performs a root canal.  Try to show your children positive dentist propaganda, like Oral-B’s Geena Giraffe.  

Prior Experience

If a child had a bad or painful visit to the dentist in the past, they will not want to repeat the experience.  Even thinking about the experience can strike fear into your child.  If this is the case for your child, talk to them about their experience.  Try going to a different dentist if you need to.  

Parental Fear

If you are afraid of the dentist yourself, that fear can transfer to your children.  Children can sense the emotional reactions of their parents, and tend to mirror their emotions.  Try to ease your own fears of the dentist before visiting the dentist with your children.  When visiting the dentist, be calm and reassuring to help your kids overcome their fears too.  

Loud Noises

Many children are afraid of the loud noises associated with the dentist.  The drills and suction devices cause fear in patients of all ages.  When you experience anxiety, your senses become amplified, and the typical sounds become more terrifying, especially for children.  Have your children listen to music or wear earplugs to help block out the loud noises.  

Fear of the Unknown

If a child has never been to the dentist before, they may be afraid because they don’t know what to expect.  The dentist office smells, looks, and sounds different than anything they’ve experienced before.  Talk to your children before visiting the dentist and let them know what to expect so that they are not afraid during their trip.