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5 Ways to Reduce Kids’ Fear of the Dentist

January 8, 2014

If you get terrified or overly anxious just thinking about going to the dentist, do not worry you are not alone. Children especially seem to be terrified just at the thought of going to the dentist and fortunately, there are ways to reduce a kid’s fear of the dentist. Dental phobia and dental anxiety are very common among adults and children. Anxiety can lead to postponing a dental check-up or worse, not going to the dentist at all. Between 5% and 8% of Americans avoid dentists out of fear, estimates Peter Milgrom, DDS, director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle and author of Treating Fearful Dental Patients. A higher percentage, perhaps 20%, experiences enough anxiety that they will go to the dentist only when absolutely necessary. There are patients who only go when their teeth problems have gone from bad to worse and no intervention can be done already other than surgery or extraction.

Dr. Reese has given assurance through an open letter on how he takes great effort to connect with patients and make them comfortable before performing any procedure. His clinic, Indianapolis Dentistry, also goes the extra mile to eliminate any factors that can contribute to a patient’s anxiety.

If a Father Fears the Dentist, His Children Follow Suit

Studies now show that children who fear going to the dentist actually inherit this trait from their parents.

Scientists at Spain’s Rey Juan Carlos University studied 183 children in Madrid, age 7 to 12, along with their parents, and found that fear levels among mothers, fathers and their kids are interconnected. The researchers found that fathers play a pivotal role when it comes to those fears being transferred from mothers to their children, since dads act as a key mediating factor.

“Although the results should be interpreted with due caution, children seem to mainly pay attention to the emotional reactions of the fathers when deciding if situations at the dentist are potentially stressful,” said researcher America Lara Sacido, writing in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry.

The authors conclude that getting kids not to dread the dentist’s chair means involving mothers and fathers in fear prevention, and making sure dads come to the dentist with their children and show no signs of fear or nervousness.

5 Ways to Reduce Kids’ Fear of the Dentist

Now that we have identified the importance of a parent’s role in reducing their children’s fear of the dentist, here are ways to ensure we stay on the right track:


Children are very intuitive. They easily pick up any negative feelings like anxiety you feel whenever you talk about going to the dentist. Avoid talk sharing negative dental stories from your own childhood. Worse, do not scare or threaten your children using the dentist. As a role model, you can take them with you whenever you have a dental check-up. When they see you comfortable, calm and not afraid of the dentist, they most likely will feel the same way when it’s their turn.


Don’t falsely reassure your children that the check-up will be pain-free. It is important to tell them the truth and set their expectation but do this matter of factly. Tell them how a procedure is done and avoid inserting any possible emotions into the conversation. Tell it like telling a fact – like how leaves fall from trees when Fall season starts or how they need to follow instructions from their teachers.


It is always a great idea to go to the dentist even when there aren’t any dental problems. In fact, dental care should start as early as possible. By making dental check-ups routine and consistent, children would most likely see it as customary and ordinary, just like going to school or to church.


Dentists usually assess parents if they will add to the agitation of the child during a dental procedure before letting them inside the room. Be a silent observer and let your dentist build rapport and explain the procedure. Practice positive reinforcement, praising and rewarding your child for behavior that helps procedures go smoothly. Avoid showing any facial expressions that show you are worried about your child.


There are dental procedures that will require the full cooperation of your child. If anxiety is a big issue, there are different sedation techniques available in the clinic that are safely practiced and enforced by Dr. Reese, a sedation dentist. Dr. Reese will be more than happy to explain to you what are the different options for your child and recommend the safest one.

Choose Indianapolis Dentistry Clinic for an Anxiety-Free Dental Check-up for Your Child.

At Indianapolis Dentistry in Greenwood, IN (near downtown Indianapolis), our number one goal is to provide you with stress-free, quality dental care. There are major consequences to skipping dental visits! Avoiding dental visits means you are missing a chance to identify and treat dental problems well before they become major health issues.

Dr. Ted Reese is an Indianapolis dentist who does pediatric cleanings (kids get a toy and a special bag with their own toothbrush and toothpaste) to prevent cavities, frenectomies for children with tongue or lip ties, and traditional or ceramic braces for teens and pre-teens. He practices minimally-invasive dentistry to make it as pain-free as possible (there are also various sedation modalities that can be used) for your child.

Again, our number one goal is to provide you with gentle, quality dental care. Please feel free to call us today at 317-882-0228 to make an appointment!