Learning Center

4 Ways to Ease Your Child's Anxiety About A Trip To the Dentist

The dentist is either a fascinating new adventure or a terrifying nightmare for small kids. Ideally, you’ll begin bring your little ones to our office when they begin to form their first teeth, but many parents choose to wait until their kids are a bit older to bring them for their first visit. We want your kids in our chair, because we know teaching children to properly care for their teeth before they’ve developed poor oral healthcare habits is much easier and more productive.

Unfortunately, we’re perfectly aware your children are sometimes scared of us. At Vestal Dental, we want to make your children feel comfortable, safe, and always looking forward to their next appointment. Since we aren’t in the market of bribing them with sugary candy when they visit – it’s sort of frowned upon in our line of work – we really have to work hard to get your kids to like us. Fortunately, our sunny personalities and great jokes win kids over every time. But just in case, there are a few things you can do to prepare your little one for their first or next visit to the dentist that might ease their fears and cure their anxiety.

Don’t Wait to Bring Them In

We know it seems silly to bring a toddler into the office, because you can’t even get him or her to sit still when Mickey Mouse in on television, but it’s necessary. The earlier you bring your little one to the dentist, the easier it will become. Your child needs to know from their earliest memory what good oral healthcare looks like, and there is no time like the present to bring him or her into our offices to learn.

Don’t Tell Them They Might Be Afraid

When you tell someone they won’t like something or that it’s scary, they’re going to be scared. You just told them they might be, so now they are fearful of us and our offices. It’s best to tell your kids nothing more than that you’re going to visit the dentist and let them ask questions. If they want to know more, be honest with them without indicating it might be a scary. Kids learn as they go unless grown-ups offer pre-conceived notions beforehand.

Practice at Home

You might not be George Clooney or Meryl Streep, but we bet your kids don’t know you’re acting skills aren’t quite your day job. Before your child visits our dental staff, play a pretend game of dentist at home. Let your child be the patient, use fun new toothbrushes, and show them what they might learn at the dentist.

It’s as simple as just asking them to say “Aaaahhhh” and looking into their mouths, brushing with them, and maybe even providing a new toothbrush with a fun character or their favorite color. Our professional tip is to let them see how loudly they can say “Aaaahhhh” when you’re checking them out. Games are fun, and kids like games – and fun.

Plan Something Fun

We might not encourage you to provide lollipops and sugary treats to the kids – it’s not good for their teeth – but you’re the parent and you know best. If you want to promise your little one a fun visit to the local ice cream shop, a trip to the park, or a new toy following a visit to the dentist that goes smoothly, go for it.

We bribe ourselves, sometimes. Think about the times you plan a date night at the end of the week to celebrate getting through a big project or finally getting all the kids healthy after a bout with a stomach virus. You are willing to go through things you don’t typically enjoy with fewer complaints when you have something to look forward to. Your kids are the same way. Let them choose something to do, go, or enjoy and they’ll probably be a little more willing to go to the dentist.

Kids are bright. If you are nervous about their trip to the dentist, they’ll pick up on that. Be calm, but don’t be too peppy about the entire situation. Your job is to treat it like anything else you do on a daily basis, such as brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. It’s just a part of life, and we promise we make it our most important goal to make your kids feel comfortable when they’re with us. We like to think we can make them like us before their first appointment is over.