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How Can I Help My Child Manage Their Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety is quite a common condition. If you believe your child is suffering from a fear of the dentist, here are some tips you can use to help them cope and make your next visit to the dentist easy.

One of the most underappreciated aspects of children’s dental appointments is how it can set them up for optimal oral health in the future. For a child to understand how important their oral health is, they need to have positive associations with their dentist. Without these positive associations, your child may be at risk of the following:

  • Developing oral health issues such as gum disease, gingivitis, and cavities
  • Needing expensive emergency dental work
  • Self-esteem issues stemming from unhealthy teeth
  • Oral health infections that can lead to lasting bodily health problems

To avoid these, your child needs to learn to appreciate the dentist's role in their overall health. If their dental anxiety isn’t permitting this, here is how you can help manage their stress levels.

Providing Complete Dental Care For Your Children and Family

At Marlborough Dental Centre, a leading family dentistry practice in Calgary, our team is experienced and skilled at providing comprehensive dental care for all. If you are looking for the best pediatric dentist in Calgary to provide dental exams and tooth cleaning services for your child, contact Marlborough Dental Centre today.

To book your appointment, call our office at 403-248-2066 or fill in our contact form below.

What is Dental Anxiety?

If you haven’t heard of it before, that’s totally normal. It is a term that has only recently been coined as we explore the mental health side of dentistry. Dental anxiety is a phrase used to describe one’s fear and stress associated with the dentist’s office and dental work. It is a genuine condition that can lead to some unfortunate consequences that stem from avoiding and delaying dental visits.

For young children, dental anxiety is even more prevalent since they have yet to be fully involved in all of the wonderful benefits of the dentist's office (roughly 20% of school-age children report dental anxiety symptoms). As a parent, if you believe your child is suffering from this condition, there are many strategies that you can employ to improve their opinion about the dentist and set them up for a lifetime of excellent oral health.

Prepare Expectations

Before your child’s scheduled dental appointment, it’s important to talk to them openly and honestly about the dentist. Here are some things that you should communicate with your child before their appointment so that they can be mentally prepared.

  • Remind them of their dental checkup well in advance so they can take time to prepare themselves mentally. Telling them last minute about their appointment can fill them with anxiety and not provide enough time to discuss their fears with you.
  • Discuss the importance of healthy teeth and mouth. Use their desire to look good by stressing the importance of teeth as a part of a good appearance. You can also use the same tactic but replaced with fresh breath.
  • Keep the details of the appointment as simple as you can. The more you openly talk about the specifics, the more your child will be thinking about the appointment, when they should be living their life.

At the Dentist’s

Managing your child’s dental anxiety at the clinic has two equally important factors to it. Firstly, you want to continue to help manage your child’s stress and fear. Secondly, you want to do your best to make the dentist’s office a friendly, healthy place to lower their fear in the future. Some methods you can use during the appointment include:

  • As the primary role model for your kid, you need to lead by example. This means that if you are scared or anxious, it is more likely that your child will feel and act the same way. Be sure to use your own stress mitigation techniques so that you are cool and confident, and your child will follow suit.
  • Bringing a toy, beloved stuffed animal, favourite blanket, or something else that they find comfort in is something small that can be very impactful. Whatever it may be, it can provide comfort and act as a distraction to help calm them.
  • Some dentists are trained to work with children. Be sure to use a Calgary pediatric dentist as they have the specialized training and experience to help your child manage their stress and enjoy their appointment.
  • Avoid using bribes as a way to get your child to do what you want. Bribes such as favourite treats for successful dental trips can lead your kid to believe that the dentist is a bad thing and that the reward is the good thing. This will not set your child up for success in the long run, as they will continue to view the dentist in a negative light.

If All Else Fails, Sedation Dentistry is An Option

Many people think that sedation dentistry is only to be used when undergoing severe dental surgery or a lengthy dental operation. However, the truth is that sedation dentistry can be used for nearly any checkup, by anybody, even children. If none of the tactics above are working for your child, talk to your pediatric dentist about the possibility of sedation dentistry.

To learn more about children's sedation dentistry at our NE Calgary dental clinic, check out our recent article on how you can prepare your child for sedation dentistry.

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Book Your Children Dentistry at Marlborough Dental Centre

At our NE Calgary clinic, we have pediatric dentists and dental hygienists who are specifically trained to administer dental exams and procedures on youth. We will comfort your child and perform effective treatments to get the oral healthcare they need with as little stress as possible. To book your family dental appointment today, contact our office at 403-248-2066 or fill in our online contact form below.



Q: Is it safe to sedate a child for dentistry?

If there are no outstanding health conditions that prevent them from undergoing sedation dentistry, yes, it is just as safe for a child as it is for an adult.

Q: What causes dental anxiety?

It is essential to know that dental anxiety is a common condition experienced by millions of people worldwide. Some of the most common causes of dental anxiety include but are not limited too:

  • Prior traumatizing dental experience
  • Fear of criticism in regards to the state of their oral health
  • A painful dental experience in the past
  • Negative preconceived notions of the dentist
  • A number of other factors

Q: At what age should I take my child to their first dental appointment?

It is commonly recommended that parents take their children to their first dental checkup by the time they turn 1, or when their first baby tooth grows (Whichever comes first).

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