Studies show that 20% of school-aged children are afraid of the dentist. Your child’s first appointment at the dentist is an important moment that could impact them for the rest of their lives, both positively and negatively. Years later, they can still be afraid if things go poorly. Or they can remember positive things, and never be afraid again. Finding the right dentist and approach can help you prevent lifelong dental anxiety in your child, which can lead to poor dental health overall.

The key is to stop childhood dental anxiety before it is given the opportunity to take hold. Children are often afraid and anxious about medical and dental checkups and procedures. However, dental anxiety can prevent your dentist from doing proper work. Fear is a normal response for children to have, especially when they do not know what to expect or feel as if they have no control.

Finding a great family dentist is of the utmost importance. A good dentist has the education and experience in dealing with children and understands the way that they think and see the world. They are able to comfort and soothe children when they are in their dental chairs by explaining what is going to happen and what they are going to do in a child-friendly way. They can empower your child and make them feel good about having good oral hygiene habits and a beautiful smile.

Children are curious by nature, so by using different models and other educational items, a good dental team can make oral health interesting. Positive experiences can help to build trust, make fear disappear and help children build lifelong oral health habits.

It’s a great idea to start your child’s dental experience positively and as early as possible. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist before the age of one year old. This way, your dentist can check if the child’s teeth and gums are healthy and identify any issues early on, so they are easier to prevent or fix.

Talking about the dentist in simple and positive terms can also help to lessen fear. If your child sees you being calm and relaxed, they have a better chance of being calm and relaxed. Many dentists encourage parents to be present during the examination so that children can feel safer.

Try your best to avoid scary words or negative talk, so you can avoid causing unnecessary anxiety. Your dentist can frame the exam in a way that’s fun, simple and easy to understand for your child. Pediatric and family dentists receive special training in order to help make their patients feel more at ease, and parents can follow this lead by using positive phrases and encouragement to eliminate any fears.