How to Help Your Child with Dentist Chair Jitters

dentist’s chair, children, anxiety, dentophobia Deidra Kokel, DDS,

Dentophobia is a fear of the dentist. It’s estimated that over 75% of adults in the US experience some kind of anxiety associated with the dentist. Somewhere between 5% - 10% of those adults experience such intense fear that they can be classified as having dentophobia.

Dentophobia is driven by cultural associations and other associated fears. Dentists are often cast in a bad light. They’re portrayed in movies and TV shows as cold, unforgiving, and, in some cases, sadistic. Dentophobia can also be spurred by fear of authoritative figures, pain, gagging, sounds, and needles.

Natural fear

Children fear the dentist for the same reason adults do: they’ve likely already had negative experiences with needles, pain, loud sounds, and authoritative figures. The most important impetus for childhood dentophobia, however, is their parents.

Parents naturally transfer their fears to their children. Children are not only perceptive, but are likely to mimic their parents, especially when it comes to fear. You may be unintentionally causing dentophobia by expressing your own dental anxiety.

But while adults are mature enough to weigh their anxiety and the health benefits of a dental cleaning, a child may not understand this logic.

Luckily, there are proven ways to overcome the dentist chair jitters. You should work with your dentist both before and during the visit to help keep your child calm. With the right preparation and attitude, your child will be able to overcome their anxiety and fear.

At Deidra Kokel, DDS, we have years of experience working with children and parents to conquer dentist chair jitters. We provide a calm and friendly service that will help set up a lifetime of positive dental experiences.

The parental role

First, share, but don’t overshare. You should let your child know what a dentist does, but in very non-technical and non-threatening terms. Absolutely avoid words like shot, pain, needle, and drill.

Don’t go to in-depth and keep your answers to their questions short. If they have a question you can’t answer, tell them to save it for the dentist. We’re trained to answer tough questions in non-menacing ways.

Don’t empathize, even though it may feel natural. You don’t want to add anything negative, even if it seems relatable. Now is not the time to share your own dental stories. Focus instead on support and compassion.

You can also tell your child how important it is to have healthy teeth and gums. Your child already associates smiling with happiness – let them know that their smile will be even better after they visit the dentist. Stress this during normal teeth brushing, too. You’ll be setting them up for a positive opinion of dental health in general.

Finally, don’t use bribery. By offering a treat beforehand, you create the sense that the dentist visit will be a struggle. You wouldn’t offer a reward for something easy or fun. Offering candy or a sweet treat may negate the message of healthy eating and good hygiene. Instead, praise your child for their bravery after the fact, and offer a sticker or small toy as a reward.

Your dentist’s role

Parents don’t have to tackle this chore on their own. At Deidra Kokel, DDS, we’re prepared for the most jittery of children. We’ll put your child at ease with light conversations and a friendly demeanor.

The major key for us is distraction. Our dentists tell stories and ask your child questions to keep their mind occupied. We’ve helped jitterbugs of all ages and can help your child look forward to their next trip to the dentist.

To schedule an appointment with one of our quality dentists, please call or make an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you!

You Might Also Enjoy...

Adjusting to Life With Dentures

Dentures do so much more than just restore a pretty smile. There’s definitely an adjustment period that’s normal when you get new dentures. Here’s what you should know about getting used to a new set of teeth.

Tips for Extending the Results of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening can deliver dramatic results that enhance your appearance and boost your self-confidence. Find out how to extend the results of your teeth whitening so you can enjoy your shining new smile for as long as possible.

How Veneers Work to Give You a Brighter Smile

If the appearance of your teeth is no reason to smile, you need to consider veneers. Chipped, cracked, and deeply stained teeth become white, bright, and dazzling when you get porcelain veneers.