How Dentists Can Reduce Pediatric Dental Anxiety

Dentists can use several strategies to manage the anxiety that your child experiences when you take them to a dentist. This article discusses some of the strategies that can help your child to be less anxious during dental visits.

Providing Information

One way through which your child's anxiety can be addressed is by giving the child more information so that what happens follows a predictable pattern. For example, the dentist may explain the different sounds that the child will hear during the dental care procedure. Such an explanation will prepare that child for those sounds once they actually happen. Consequently, the child will be less likely to become anxious when various sounds start being emitted as they are being treated.


Another technique that can be used to combat dental anxiety is the use of measures to enhance relaxation. For example, the dentist can guide the child on how to breathe in and out slowly until that child relaxes. The child can also blow bubbles from a handheld wand to inhale and exhale deeply. The dental procedure can then be performed once the child has relaxed sufficiently.


Dental anxiety can also be reduced by keeping the child distracted. Different approaches to distraction work for different children. For example, your child may express interest in playing with a specific toy that another child won't show any interest in. Dentists usually have a large collection of toys so that each child will find what attracts their attention. The dental procedure can be done while the child is distracted by the toy. Another way to distract the child is by engaging them in a discussion about a topic of interest, such as their last visit to an amusement park.

Positive Reinforcement

Praise and tokens can be given to a child as rewards for "being brave" during a dental procedure. The reinforcement usually takes the form of something that the child will be interested in. For instance, stickers can be offered for every ten minutes that a child stays still during their treatment or examination. Younger kids may need more frequent reinforcement when compared to older kids.

Numerous measures can be used to ease any anxiety that your child may exhibit when you take them to see a dentist. Discuss any concerns that you may have so that the dentist can find appropriate ways to address those concerns. For example, sedation dentistry can be used in case your child displays extreme levels of dental anxiety.

For more information, contact a child dentist.