We all know how debilitating anxiety and phobias can be in adults, so for kids it can be even worse as they tend to also have the fear of the unknown or unfamiliar places.

Dental anxiety or phobia is a common issue among children that can make dental visits stressful for both the child and the parent. However, it’s essential to address this fear to ensure your child receives the necessary dental care for their oral health. In this article, we will explore strategies to help children overcome dental anxiety or phobia.

Understanding Dental Anxiety or Phobia in Children

Dental anxiety or phobia refers to a significant fear or apprehension related to dental visits. Children may experience dental anxiety due to various reasons, such as fear of pain, unfamiliar surroundings, or previous negative experiences. It is crucial to acknowledge and address their fears to create a positive dental experience.

Tips to Help Children Overcome Dental Anxiety or Phobia

  1. Choose a child-friendly dental practice: Look for a dental practice that creates a welcoming environment for kids. Dentists and dental staff who are experienced in working with children can help create a comfortable and reassuring atmosphere.
  2. Communicate openly: Talk to your child about dental visits in a positive and age-appropriate manner. Explain what to expect during the visit, including the role of the dentist and dental tools, and address any concerns or questions they may have. Use simple and positive language to foster a sense of understanding and reduce anxiety.
  3. Role-play and storytelling: Engage in pretend play or storytelling to familiarise your child with dental procedures and the dental office environment. Use dolls, stuffed animals, or books to reenact a dental visit, highlighting the positive aspects and emphasising that dental care is essential for a healthy smile.
  4. Visit the dental office beforehand: Arrange a non-treatment visit to the dental office with your child. This allows them to become familiar with the surroundings, meet the dental team, and ask questions. Such visits can help alleviate anxiety by making the environment feel less intimidating.
  5. Practice relaxation techniques: Teach your child simple relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or visualisation, to use during dental visits. These techniques can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calmness.
  6. Positive reinforcement and rewards: Praise your child for their bravery and cooperation during dental visits. Consider offering small rewards, such as stickers or a special treat, to create positive associations with dental experiences. However, avoid using bribes that may inadvertently reinforce the idea that dental visits are inherently negative.
  7. Consider sedation options if necessary: In severe cases of dental anxiety or phobia, consult with a paediatric dentist or dentist regarding sedation options. Sedation dentistry can help children remain calm and relaxed during dental procedures, ensuring their safety and comfort.

Consulting with a Dental Professional

If your child’s dental anxiety or phobia persists despite your efforts, it may be beneficial to seek guidance from a dental professional. Pediatric dentists and dental specialists are experienced in managing dental anxiety in children and can provide tailored strategies and support to help your child overcome their fears.

Helping your child overcome dental anxiety or phobia is crucial for their oral health and overall well-being. By employing strategies such as choosing a child-friendly dental practice, open communication, role-play, relaxation techniques, and positive reinforcement, you can gradually ease their fear and create a positive dental experience. Consultation with a dental professional can offer additional support and guidance throughout this process.


Australian Dental Association. (n.d.). Dental Anxiety and Phobia. Retrieved from https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Adults-31-64/Dental-Anxiety-and-Phobia

Australian Dental Association. (n.d.). Your Child’s Dental Health. Retrieved from https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Children-0-11

Australian Dental Association. (n.d.). Choosing a Dentist for Your Child. Retrieved from https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Children-0-11/Choosing-a-Dentist-for-your-Child

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