5 Ways to Help Your Child Feel Relaxed at the Dentist

Does your child experience anxiety or misbehave at the dentist’s office? If so, the following tips can help!

Though many children react positively to dentists and other medical providers, some have issues with going to appointments. The most common results are anxiety, rebellion, and generally misbehaving. This behavior can be incredibly frustrating for parents. Fortunately, there are a variety of methods you can use to manage your children’s behavior before and during dental appointments.

child scared at dentist's office

Realistic Expectations

The first method you can use comes before you ever arrive at the dental office. It is creating realistic expectations for your children. What this strategy does is reduce fear through education. The first way you can do so is through simple explanations about what a facility looks like and what might happen during an appointment. The second method is reading through a children’s book that tackles this issue for you.  


Children tend to model their behavior on the people around them. You can use this effect to help them with dental fears. The best way to do so is to bring them along to an appointment for you or one of their siblings. This experience should show them how a person is supposed to handle medical treatment.


Now, let’s move on to management tips that you can use at the appointment, rather than before it. One of them is providing distractions, and the best way to do so is through the dentist’s entertainment system. What it allows you to do is focus your children’s attention on a television show or movie, rather than the treatment they are getting. Not only are distractions useful, but watching entertaining content might help you build a positive association between your child and the dentist.


One of the most powerful persuasion strategies you can use is offering incentives. To do so, think of one of the things your children love to do most. Whether that is a trip to the movies, going to the park, or eating at a favorite restaurant, you can use that activity as a bargaining chip to help your children behave. Even better, sharing the experience can be a wonderful bonding moment for you and them.

Positive Reinforcement

Lastly, a bit of positive reinforcement goes a long way when it comes to behavioral management. Telling your children that they are brave and giving other words of encouragement should make them behave at the dentist. As an added benefit, this method should become more and more effective as time passes because reinforcement tends to compound when used over long periods.

If you’re lucky, none of your children will have issues going to the dentist. What might happen, though, is that one or more of them misbehaves or feels anxiety when doing so. Your best bet at solving this problem is utilizing the tried and true behavioral management techniques on this list. One last factor that you can’t discount is the quality and friendliness of your pediatric dentist. If you think it might be time to find a new pediatric dentist, find someone that puts your children at ease.

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