What to Do When Your Child Is Scared of the Dentist

You want your child’s visit to the dentist to be a great experience, but you’re worried. Maybe your child has visited the dentist before and it didn’t go so well. Maybe your toddler won’t even let you near his/her mouth with a toothbrush, making you wonder how in the world your child will survive a dental exam. Maybe you have your own fears about the dentist, and now your pre-teen is starting to show those same anxieties.

As tempting as it might seem to skip that next dentist appointment, as a parent you know the importance of regular dental care. Try out the tips below to help ease your child’s fears about the dentist’s chair. 

1. Find the Right Dentist

Finding a dentist who really knows how to work with kids can make all the difference in the world if you have an apprehensive child. This is why we always recommend a board-certified pediatric dentist. 

Board-certified pediatric dentists are specially trained to ease the fears of anxious children; to explain dental procedures in a way that is not scary, using child-appropriate language; and to work quickly (but thoroughly).

Not sure how to go about choosing the right dentist for your child? Check out our guide to choosing the best pediatric dentist for a list of considerations that may help you narrow down your search.

2. Keep a Calm, Positive Attitude

Whether your child is one or sixteen, he or she can often sense how you’re feeling. If you are a nervous wreck before your child’s dentist appointment (or your own), your child will likely pick up on that. 

No matter what your experience with the dentist has been in the past, try to put aside any negative emotions. Be honest with your child about what to expect while using positive language. Remember that a dentist’s goal is not to cause pain, but to ultimately relieve any pain and help patients feel their best by restoring and protecting patients’ oral health.

Never threaten your children with a visit to the dentist if they are not practicing good oral care at home. A dental visit should never be seen as a punishment.

3. Model Good Oral Hygiene at Home

When you are at home, model good oral care. Show your child how you brush and floss. If possible, consider bringing your child to your own dentist appointment just to observe.

If your children are very young, play “dentist” with them. You and your children can take turns being the dentist and you can reward them with stickers for being great patients. 

4. Choose a Fun Atmosphere

Look for a dental office with a fun atmosphere to engage your children and put them at ease. 

At Hurst Pediatric Dentistry, we have taken great care to make every space kid-friendly. From the child-friendly décor to the TVs on the ceiling above each exam chair to the prize machines, your child will find plenty in our office to distract him or her from any anxiety!

5. Consider Dental Sedation Options

For very anxious children, dental sedation may be an option to consider.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a very safe sedative that allows a mildly nervous child to feel calm while remaining awake and able to talk to the dentist. It is administered through a mask and wears off very quickly after treatment. 

Oral conscious sedation and general anesthesia are other options that can be considered if the required dental treatment is extensive and the child is unable to tolerate the treatment with repeated nitrous oxide attempts. 

Dr. Lin works closely with parents to educate them on all options and find the best treatment choice for their child.

Positive Dental Experience in Hurst, TX

Going to the dentist can sometimes be scary for kids, especially if they don’t know what to expect. Let us help make your child’s next dentist visit a positive experience!  As a board-certified pediatric dentist, Dr. Lin is highly experienced at keeping children calm, happy, and comfortable during their visits. Call us today at (817) 510-6400 to schedule an appointment

Hurst Pediatric Dentistry is located in Hurst, Texas, and provides dental services to children from the Dallas / Forth Worth area, including Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Colleyville, Southlake, Grapevine, North Richland Hills, Keller and Irving.

This article is intended to provide general information about oral health topics. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition or as a substitute for the advice of a healthcare professional who is fully aware of and familiar with the specifics of your case. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with regard to any questions you may have relating to a medical condition or treatment.


Dr. Jin Lin

Doctor Jin Lin, Board Certified Pediatric Dentist

Dr. Jin Lin is a board-certified pediatric dentist with a passion for helping children achieve healthier, more beautiful smiles. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and his Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. After graduating cum laude from dental school, he completed his post-doctoral pediatric dentistry training at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, where he served as chief resident and worked with children with a wide variety of special medical and dental needs, including children with rare syndromes.