As a member of a family or pediatric dental practice, you know that some children can be quite anxious
about their appointments. Trembling, crying, and all-around nervous behavior can both cause child
patients to have an unpleasant experience and make your job harder. Luckily, there are a number of
different steps that you can take to put your young patients’ minds at ease and ensure a pleasant visit!
Craft a Welcoming Environment
Although this may sound a bit obvious, children respond very well to environments that are bright,
clean, and interactive. Fill your waiting area with fun games and dental themed toys, and perhaps throw
on a kid-friendly dental program on the television. As young patients enter your practice and play with
these toys, they will begin to think of your office as a fun and safe place to be. Subsequently, they will be
in a more relaxed state once their checkup begins.
At Crescent Lake Dental, we know maintaining a lively office is only one part of the equation—the staff must foster a positive presence as
well. Promoting child-focused interaction techniques to your doctors, hygienists, and front desk staff can
make it so that young patients feel secure throughout their entire visit.
Simple steps such as using friendly speaking tones, telling funny stories, and explaining dental
procedures in clear, positive terms can all have hugely beneficial effects.
Speak with Parents Beforehand
For some child patients, the anxiety begins days before even visiting your office. Just knowing that they
will have to see the dentist later in the week can set some kids off into hysterics. Therefore, it can be
quite helpful to give parents some tips on how to mentally prepare their children for the appointment.
Consider some of the following approaches:
Healthy dental care starts from an early age. By taking steps like the ones outlined above, you can
encourage great habits in your young patients and prevent dental anxiety from ever taking hold in the
- Advise that parents frame the visit in a positive light, including mentions of how fun the toys are and how the dentists are super friendly. Additionally, make sure to mention that certain “negative sounding” words like “drill” or “scrape” should be avoided whenever possible.
- If the child has a security item (e.g. a beloved stuffed animal, toy, or blanket), point out that it is absolutely ok for them to bring it.
- Suggest that parents come up with a positive reinforcement associated with the dentist. Proposing something like eating a favorite food or going the park after the visit can give children an event to look forward to before and during the appointment. Just make sure that parents know not to include a negative caveat with the promise (e.g. “you can’t cry”)—these kinds of conditions often just make children more nervous.