A Parents Guide on How to Calm Anxiety Before a Visit to the Dentist

A Parents Guide on How to Calm Anxiety Before a Visit to the Dentist


By the time your little one needs to see the dentist, they may have already heard horror stories from friends about the things that take place on that oddly shaped chair – everything from drilling to the suction device and metallic equipment invading one’s sense of space and sometimes instilling a sense of fear and anxiety.

Anxiety is Common

If your child is displaying signs of anxiety prior to a dental visit (saying they don’t want to go, crying, bargaining so as to get out of the visit), don’t worry; their feelings are completely normal and unfortunately, often echo the sentiments expressed by adults prior to a dentist.

Illustration of Stickman Family holding a Toothbrush cleaning a Big Tooth

Which one of us wouldn’t trade a root canal or cleaning for just about any other chore or task we can think of? Apparently, fear of the dentist can be attributed to three different factors: fear of loss of control, fear of embarrassment, and fear of pain.

While we may not be able to remove these ingredients from a dental visit, there are many ways to reduce the type of anxiety that will only heighten fear and make our kids more susceptible to pain.

Tips for Reducing Anxiety


Introduce children to positive imagery involving dentists:

Find an interesting cartoon episode about a cartoon character’s visit to the dentist, read a fun book about a visit to the dentist and explain the procedure the child will be having, in a relaxed manner.

You can even point out different furniture they will encounter in a dentist’s office, including the special chair, lamp, dental apparatus machine, etc.


Use visualization techniques: 

In the lead-up to your child’s dental visit, lie down with them in a cosy, dark place and invite them to visualize being in the dentist. You might recreate sounds they are likely to hear.

Ask them to imagine that they are sitting in the dentist’s chair and feeling a sense of calm as the dentist asks them to open their mouth and begins to clean their teeth.

Invite them to breathe deeply and imagine their body becoming heavier and heavier. If they are calm enough on the day of their visit, they can repeat this meditation technique while they are in the chair.



Encourage good dental hygiene on a regular basis: 11330171-Illustration-of-Dental-Products-Hanging-Together-Stock-Illustration-teeth-cartoon-tooth

Most kids fear cavity filling and similar procedures yet these actually hurt the least because they are normally carried out under anaesthetic.

Cleaning, a seemingly simpler procedure, can actually be more painful, especially if gums are inflamed because teeth contain large amounts of plaque.

Keep the pain factor down by encouraging children to brush and floss regularly. Keep it exciting with electric toothbrushes or water cleansing device, which add a bit of magic to this routine activity.


Ask for a pre-appointment visit: 

If your child is very nervous, ask their dentist if your child can visit them beforehand without having any procedure done.

Your dentist can turn on the charm and reassure your child that the visit will not be unpleasant or painful.

If your child is having a big procedure performed, the dentist can explain that they will be using sedation and your child will feel deliciously sleepy and relaxed from start to finish.


Allow your child to bring a security item with them: 

This may be a blanket, stuffed animal or special toy that helps them feel secure.


Try using relaxing essential oils: 

Many people turn to essential oils for everything from fatigue to anxiety. If you do decide to try this therapy, make sure to use therapeutic grade essential oils only.


These are normally contained in a dark bottle to prevent the sun from interfering with the contents. One of the most relaxing and gentle oils is lavender.  Rub a few drops into your child’s skin or better yet, consume essential lavender oil in raw chocolate.

If you are making the chocolate at home, use just a drop or two of the oil in a big batch, since its smell and taste are very strong.



Focus on what you’ll be doing after the appointment: 41e2cfe9b27efd0dd02e4d47f7abb196

Schedule a fun activity for your child after their dental visit. Take them to their favourite fun park, activity play center, or restaurant. It really helps to put the visit into perspective, stressing that it will be just one small part of a big, adventure-packed day.

Finally, make sure that your child doesn’t notice that you are stressed about their visit. Nothing makes for a relaxed child more than a relaxed parent.


Article by Gemma Cain




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