How to Help Calm Your Child's Dentist Chair Nerves

Is your child nervous about making the twice-yearly trip to the dentist? If so, they’re in good company. Anxiety-related to visiting the dentist can range from simply being nervous about receiving care to a strong phobia that makes visits almost impossible. At least 20% of school-age children have dentist chair anxiety. 

At Legacy Dental Care in Ballwin, Missouri, Amanda Darling, DDS, and our entire care team know how important having good oral healthcare is to your child’s overall health and well-being. We take the dental health of you and your family seriously and offer comprehensive general and family dentistry services to keep your family’s teeth in tiptop shape. 

To help make your child’s next dentist visit go smoothly, we’ve curated this guide with our top tips to help calm your child’s dentist chair nerves. Read on to learn more!

Tips to help calm your child’s dentist chair anxiety

Dental anxiety manifests differently in each person, and even more differently with children. Your child may cry or throw a tantrum, or they may try to hide or refuse to move from their room. 

No matter how your child’s dentist chair nerves appear, there are measures you can take to help ease their fears. If you want to give your child a more positive dental experience, consider implementing these steps: 

1. Schedule a meet-and-greet with the dentist

Ideally, your child began receiving dental care as soon as their first teeth began to form. If you’re getting a late start or had to make a switch to a new dentist, be sure to schedule a time for your nervous child to get to know the dentist before their first oral exam. Having a simple meet-and-greet appointment can go a long way to easing their nerves.

2. Don’t share your own dental anxieties

Children who have dentist chair nerves often have parents who are nervous about visiting the dentist. If this describes you, or if you’re nervous about a procedure your child must have, do your best to not voice your anxieties in front of your child. Speak calmly and address any fears without panic.

3. Try distraction

Help your child take their mind off the dentist by bringing their favorite toy or stuffed animal to keep with them in the dentist’s chair. Young children may feel comforted by sitting in their parent’s lap or holding their parent’s hand. 

To keep nerves at bay on the way to the office and in the waiting room, consider letting your child play a car game on the ride over, use your iPad or phone, work in a book of riddles or puzzles, or play a game with a sibling or friend. You can even try having them count different objects in the waiting or exam room to keep their mind occupied. 

4. Keep your child informed 

Anxiety often results when we feel like we’re out of control. The same is true for your child. Help manage their fears by keeping them informed about what to expect during their appointment. If you let the team at Legacy Dental Care know that your child is anxious, we’ll help explain procedures ahead of time and as we go. 

5. Reward good behavior

When your child successfully gets through their appointment, be sure to reward them for it! Simple praise from a parent goes a long way toward reinforcing good habits.  

If you want to learn more about helping calm your child’s dentist chair nerves, or if you’d like to schedule an exam for your child, contact Legacy Dental Care’s Ballwin office at 636-203-7519 and set up an appointment now! 

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