dentist, kids, dental exams, fear of dentist

Tips for easing your child’s anxiety at the dentist



Going to the dentist can be scary for children. Even with the most comforting dentist in the world, the sounds and sensations can make your child feel on edge. 36% of people suffer from dentophobia.  Creating a positive experience from the first dental visit can ease this fear and set the stage for good experiences at the dentist for life.  Here are some ways you can help your child feel good about going to the dentist.

  1. Talk about the dentist at home 

Get in front of your child’s anxiety by talking it through at home. Talk to them about the chair, the lights and the tools. Show them videos, and photos and explain what will happen. Only provide the information they need to know right now. Hold off on scary conversations about drilling and cavities until your child needs those procedures.

  1. Speak to your dentist

Our trained pediatric dentists are very familiar with children who are afraid of the dentist. Let us know if your child has anxiety or dentist phobia. We are more than happy to sit down with your child before the appointment to answer any questions.

  1. Comforting items

Many children feel comforted by a stuffed animal, favorite book, or other object from home that reminds them that they’re safe. Bring this to your appointment so your child can hold onto it during the visit and squeeze it if they get scared.

Pro tip: For young children, we advise parents to choose a pediatric dentist appointment time that best fits your child’s activity or energy level.

  1. Accompany your child

Nothing comforts kids like having a loved one nearby, so we encourage you to accompany your child back to the dental treatment area.

  1. Consider Sedation for your child’s dentist phobia

Some situations might require stronger reinforcements. You might consider sedation in these situations:

  • Your child has special needs.
  • Your child has extreme pediatric dentist anxiety that has prevented them from getting the care they need
  • Your child has a dental emergency
  • Your child requires a more extensive treatment

Desert Valley Pediatric Dentistry offers safe sedation for children using the following kinds of sedation: Nitrous Oxide, conscious oral sedation and general anesthesia.

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Desert Valley Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics has 6 locations in the Phoenix area and 2 locations in Tucson

Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) is effective for children with mild dental anxiety. Laughing gas helps to relieve tension and make your child feel comfortable. It’s safe for children toddler-age and up. Recovery time is practically instant.  A few minutes with the gas off and the oxygen on, is all it takes.

Oral Conscious Sedation is a technique to guide a child’s behavior during dental treatment. Medications are used to help increase cooperation and to reduce anxiety or discomfort associated with dental procedures. Sedative medications cause most children to become relaxed and drowsy.

General anesthesia is another option. General anesthesia is administered with an IV. Your child is put to sleep completely, giving the dentist the opportunity to take care of their teeth without your child feeling any pain. General anesthesia is safe for many patients, but our dentists will review your child’s medical history to determine if this is a viable option.

Help your child get over their fear of the dentist 

While your child may be the one experiencing the anxiety, it’s not easy to watch as a parent, either.  As a dentist for kids, we love working with children and their parents — and are happy to answer any questions you have. It’s our job to provide support for both of you.

For more information, call one of our 8 locations in Arizona or learn more at




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