How to Handle Children Who Are Afraid of the Dentist: 8 Steps
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A pediatric dentist will help your child feel comfortable.

When you think about it from your child’s point of view, the dentist’s office can be a pretty scary place. Strange men wearing masks who want to look in her mouth, loud drills and even your nervousness can make your child fearful of the dentist. A pediatric dentist specializes in working with children and many pediatric dentists are especially good at working with children who have already had negative experiences at the dentist’s office. A skilled pediatric dentist will make your child feel comfortable while checking her pearly whites.


  1. 1
    Play dentist at home. Sit in a chair, open your mouth and let your child pretend to be the dentist. Let her look in your mouth and squirt in a little water.
  2. 2
    Trade places and pretend to be the dentist. Have your child sit down and open her mouth while you look in and squirt water in her mouth. Remind her that the dentist helps her keep her teeth healthy.
  3. 3
    Read age-appropriate books about going to the dentist. SpongeBob, Dora, Barney and Little Critter all star in children's books about going to the dentist.
  4. 4
    Visit the dentist for a tour the day before your child's appointment. Let your child walk around the waiting room, talk with the dentist and technicians, sit in the dental chair and examine some of the dentist’s tools.
  5. 5
    Bring a special toy with you to the dentist’s office so your child has something to play with while she waits.
  6. 6
    Schedule a fun activity for after the visit. Don’t tell her, “If you’re good we can go to the toy store.” Instead say, “After we go to the dentist, we can go swimming.” This gives her something to look forward to that isn't dependent on her behavior.
  7. 7
    Talk with the dentist and let your child get comfortable before the exam. If she still seems nervous, ask if the dentist can examine your child while she is in your lap.
  8. 8
    Praise your child for being brave even if she gets upset. It is a big effort for her to try and control herself when she is scared, and each visit should get a little easier.


  • Find a dentist who is gentle and patient with your child. If she has already had a negative experience, try another dentist until you find one your child likes.Prepare your child for the visit but don’t let her stress over it. If going to the dentist still makes her anxious, ask the office for additional tips to calm her.


  • If dentists make you anxious, keep this from your child since it will make her even more nervous. If you act like you're in control, your child will feel calmer.

Things You'll Need

  • Books or movies about the dentist
  • Chair
  • Squirt bottle
  • Preparation

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications

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