Helpful Behavioral Strategies for Kids Who Fear Dental Procedures

Child in the Dental OfficeA recent study has shown that more than 20 percent of school-going kids are never excited about dentist visits. Many dentists consider fearful kids their most stubborn patients to deal with. If not worked on, dental anxiety can expose kids to progressive dental problems that could cost their parents a lot. However, this doesn’t mean that kids should miss their dental care procedures on fear excuses. There are behavioral strategies that the parents should use to deal with dental anxiety in kids.


Relaxation strategies are useful for kids who are visibly anxious to dental visits. A deep-breathing exercise is one of the strategies that give kids relief. Here, the dentist asks the kid to inhale deeply and exhale slowly or even blow wand bubbles to distract their mind from the dental environment. Progressive muscle relaxation is another systemic approach a parent can use though it’s time-consuming. If a parent has not used this technique to tense and relax the muscles of their kid before, they can get a commercial audiotape to guide them.


Positive reinforcement is a great incentive a parent can use to help an anxious child brave the dental procedure and respond well to the dentist’s instructions. This reinforcement may involve giving the child tangible rewards such as baseball cards, pretend tattoos and stickers among others. Of course, younger kids may require frequent reinforcement than the older ones. However, this strategy may not be effective if the token offered to an anxious kid is not valuable to them. When deciding on what token to give to a kid to reinforce them, it’s advisable to consider age and gender.


Children whose lives are is predictable seem to do best. If parents inform their kids about what they should expect from a dentist’s office, they would greatly tolerate the procedure. Parents and dentists should not withhold crucial dental information from kids with dental anxiety. For instance, recommends that the kids' dentist in Sugar House makes the kid understand what the procedure will taste like, type of vibrations to expect and noises they may hear. Simple role-plays or demonstration would be useful instead of complicated medical verbal explanations.

It’s not easy dealing with anxious kids in a dentist’s office. However, the above strategies should help parents with anxious kids not to miss a single dental procedure or clinic. Kids with good dental health are known to suffer fewer general illnesses.