Children’s Fear of the Dentist

Many factors can contribute to a child’s fear of the dentist. On top of that list is a bad experience at a previous dental appointment. The younger the age, the higher likelihood that a child will have a fear of the dentist. It has even been shown that parents can pass along their own fear of the dentist. Children are very perceptive and can sense that a parent is stressed when talking about a dental visit. I employ a number of techniques to help allay a child’s fear. We have TV’s in the ceiling with cartoons playing which helps distract the child. Just something as simple as using a gentle, friendly voice and a smile can also put the child at ease. The “tell-show-do” technique works great. I tell them about the “water sprayer” that will flush out all of the “cavity bugs”, then I will take the dental hand piece and spray water on their hand so that they can see that there is nothing to fear. Then, for the “do”, I touch the anesthetized tooth which produces a gentle vibration so that they can see that there is no pain. And speaking of the numbing process, they are never shown the needle. They just get a little “pinch” to put the tooth to sleep. By employing just a few simple techniques can greatly reduce a child’s fear of the dentist and make it a pleasant experience.