5 Tips to Make the Dentist Less Scary for Your Child

doctor working with a young patient

Fear of the dentist affects all ages.

Trips to the dentist can be anxiety-inducing for adults, and this problem is even more common among children. However, a dental visit does not have to be a cause of fear for your child. The team at Pediatric Dental Specialists of Greater Nebraska have provided the 5 effective tips to help you make dental trips less scary for your kids. By following this advice, you might even find that your child ends up looking forward to visiting their dentist.

1. Set the tone.

Children take cues from the adults around them, such as their parents and teachers. If you express frustration or anxiety about seeing your own dentist, your kids are sure to pick up on this. Instead, try to maintain a positive attitude about dental visits.

When it’s time for your child’s dental appointment, make it a happy event. Show excitement and anticipation about visiting their dentist just like you would for a family vacation or other fun event. You might even consider rewarding them with a small treat after their dental appointment, like a meal at their favorite restaurant or an inexpensive toy.

Remember, you set the tone for your child’s dental encounters. If you keep it positive, then your child will learn that journeys to the dentist are nothing to fear.

2. Start dental visits early.

You should make your child’s first dental appointment by their first birthday or within six months of when their first tooth erupts. Not only will early dental visits help ensure your child’s oral health, but they will also help them acclimate to their dentists, their dental team, and the dental office. In time, your child will come to trust their dentist as someone who is concerned for their health and who would never intentionally cause them discomfort.

Furthermore, starting dental visits when your child is very young will help instill good oral health habits. Kids who see their dentists regularly are more likely to brush and floss properly and show appropriate concern about the health of their teeth and gums.

3. Choose a dentist who specializes in kids’ dentistry.

Most general or family dentists will see children, but this does not mean that they are truly a pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist who only treats kids has dedicated themselves to caring for children’s dental needs. They are likely to understand children and have a patient and compassionate disposition.

Children have oral care needs that differ from those of adults. A pediatric dentist will be patient and kind with your child, but they will also understand the dental requirements and challenges they face at every stage of childhood. So, for your child, select a pediatric dentist who has built their career around providing dental care just for kids.

Our entire team at Pediatric Dental Specialists of Greater Nebraska is dedicated to children. We are always willing to go the extra mile to put your little one at ease and make their dental visit enjoyable. Kids with special needs are also always welcome at our dental practice, and we’ll work with your child’s physician to make sure we meet their needs.

4. Make home dental care fun.

One way you can help your child overcome dental anxiety is to make brushing and flossing at home a fun experience. For example, let them choose their own toothpaste flavor. You don’t have to stick with basic mint. Orange, strawberry, bubblegum, and more are now available.

Also, toothbrushes come in all sorts of fun varieties. Your kid can pick their favorite cartoon character or a toothbrush in their favorite color. You might also want to play a special song or their choice of music as they brush and floss. These efforts will help your child to associate dental care with fun rather than fear.

5. Consider sedation options.

Sometimes kids need a little extra help to overcome dental fears. Sedation dentistry can provide this assistance. Nitrous oxide is one option. This is the “laughing gas” that dentists have used for many decades. Nitrous oxide causes relaxation and mild pain relief, but it will not put your child to sleep. This gas is completely safe and wears off after just a few minutes of breathing normal air.

We also offer oral sedation at our pediatric dentistry practice. This conscious sedation helps eliminate anxiety and allows your child to relax for dental treatment. Our team is always happy to discuss oral conscious sedation options and guidelines with you.

For kids who need additional help, such as children with special needs, we can also arrange dentistry in a hospital setting. A trained and certified anesthesiologist will monitor your child as they undergo dental treatment under general anesthesia.

Contact us now to schedule your child’s appointment or discuss any of their dental needs.