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Parent’s Guide to Fear of the Dentist (Dentophobia)

fear of the dentist - child holds hands over mouth in fearDo you have a fear of the dentist? Does the idea of visiting the dentist fill you with fear and dread? Do you put off making dental appointments because you can’t stand the thought of sitting in the chair? You may be suffering from dentophobia, and if you are a parent, you could pass this same fear on to your children.

Routine dental checkups are vital for people of all ages, but especially children. Oral health issues are often easily treatable if caught early, and having regularly cleanings throughout childhood can prevent dental disease throughout adulthood. But if you are scared of the dentist, you might be keeping your kids from the dental care they need.

Fear of the Dentist: The Stats

A study performed by Delta Dental showed that on average just 24% of children are afraid to visit the dentist.

However, in children with a dentophobic parent, that number jumps to nearly 40%.

In the study, Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS and Vice President of Delta Dental, stated “Parents who fear visiting the dentist should try to keep those feelings to themselves to avoid passing them on to children. It’s important that the parent or caregiver responsible for taking children to the dentist remains relaxed and calm.”

Preventing Fear of the Dentist

So how can prevent your child from being afraid of visiting the dentist if you are? Here are some ways from preventing dentophobia in your children:

  • Start Young

The American Dental Association recommends that children visit the dentist within six months of getting their first tooth and no later than their first birthday. By starting kids off young, children and parents can establish trust with their dentist and establish a good routing of regular dentist visits, which will help prevent fear of the dentist in the future.

  • Keep it Simple

Children are very curious by nature, and odds are good they will ask questions before their dental visits. Avoid using scary sounding words such as drill, shot, or filling and do not tell them it won’t hurt, since oftentimes children don’t even think about pain being involved in visiting the dentist. Instead, use simple, non-threatening words to explain what will happen during the appointment, or try reading a child-friendly book on visiting the dentist.

  • Stay Positive

Avoid discussing your own negative dental experiences with their child. If your child does exhibit fear about going to the dentist, you can tell her that even you find dentist visits scary sometimes, but that there really is nothing to worry about. Explain that all the dentist wants to do is check out her smile and count her teeth.

  • Call Ahead

Before your child’s appointment, call your dentist’s office and explain that your child may be a bit anxious about the visit. Most dentist offices have toys or music that children can focus on, which will help them relax.

By staying calm and asking your dentist for help, you can avoid creating dental fear in your child. A calm and relaxed dental experience will ensure that your child continues to receive proper dental care throughout her life, which is one of the most important parts of her overall well-being. It’s also possible that keeping your child calm through dental visits will help you be a little less scared, too!

Friendly Dental Care for Kids in Cuyahoga County, Ohio

If you’d like to ask us about you or your child’s dental fears, or if you have questions about your oral health in general, please make an appointment or contact Dr. Kenneth J. Wolnik:

6363 York Rd, Ste 202
Parma Heights, OH 44130

(440) 888-5055


Office Hours
Monday: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Tuesday: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Thursday: 8:00am – 6:00pm
Friday: 7:30am – 1:00pm

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