Six tips to managing dental treatments for kids with anxiety

Many kids fear going to the dentist. In fact, dental fear and anxiety affects one in 10 Australian children. They may have had a previous traumatic dental experience that scared them, or they may have picked up this anxiety from a family member or loved one. Dental treatment anxiety in kids can be caused by a fear of pain, the unknown, tools such as needles and drills, kinds of treatments, sounds, smells, the dental setting, or even the dentist themselves.

This level of worry can result in tears, and not just from the kids! It can be upsetting for you as parents and carers too. Common signs and symptoms of dental anxiety in kids include crying, distress, panic attacks, withdrawal, and fidgeting to name a few. If dental anxiety is not managed when your child is young, it can prevent them from attending much needed dental appointments in adult life resulting in poor oral care and further health complications. 

At Macarthur Paediatric Dentistry, we are driven by a desire to make your child’s dental visit a positive experience. Here are our six tips to managing dental treatments for kids with anxiety:



Your child’s first dental appointment is recommended after they turn one or no longer than six months after they get their first teeth. Starting your child’s dental visits early helps to start conversations with your dentist about oral care.

During their first appointment, your child will be introduced to their paediatric dentist in a friendly way to build trust and allow them to feel comfortable with the dentist checking their teeth and gums which sets them up with healthy habits for the future. The first visit 

Ensure to book regular visits at least every six to 12 months with the same dentist if possible so your child becomes familiar with their dentist, the dental team, and the dental environment. 



Before your child visits the dentist, chat to them about their appointment and their feelings. Explain the reason and importance for going to the dentist and how the dentist can help them to stay healthy. 

Next, answer any questions they may have honestly to ease their worries. Toys and books can help to alleviate their anxiety too. Toy dental kits are useful for role playing to demonstrate the dentist setting in a positive way. 

Some great books to help your child overcome dental fear and anxiety include The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss, Curious George Visits the Dentist by H. A. Rey, and Peppa Pig Dentist Trip by Scholastic.

Before your child’s appointment, it can be beneficial for them to get to know their dentist. They can learn more about their dentist, see their photo and learn their hobbies and superpowers. Seeing their face and knowing more about them takes some of the unknown out of the upcoming appointment.



Bringing one of your child’s favourite comforters to the dentist can help to ease their worries and be a great distraction. These can include their favourite toy, a blanket (weighted blankets are great for easing anxiety), their favourite book, or their favourite song. You can call us ahead of time to chat with us about your child’s fears and if there’s anything you can bring that might help. 



Deep breathing and meditation are effective ways to manage anxiety. You can practise deep breaths at home with your child and then do them while at the dentist which helps your child to focus on their breath rather than on their fears. 

There are many calming meditations to reduce dental anxiety in kids, the Insight Timer app is free and features kid’s meditations that could help. Focus-attention strategies can also be helpful including counting, singing, and concentrating on an object of focal point in the room to distract them from their treatment fears.



If your child experiences severe dental anxiety or phobia, your dentist may recommend your child see a psychologist or use pharmacological methods including dental treatment under sedation. During your initial consultation we will address these concerns so you and your child feel confident about the plan going forward.



A paediatric dentist provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care specialising in the treatment of infants and children through adolescence, including those with special healthcare needs.

Registered specialist paediatric dentists are qualified dentists who have completed at least two years of clinical dental practice and three years specialist training following their dental degree. Their additional training specialising in children’s oral health can help to reassure you as a parent. 

As we are a paediatric dental clinic, our practice and treatment rooms are designed to provide your child with a comfortable dental experience.

At Macarthur Paediatric Dentistry, our team is highly trained, professional and friendly. 


Parents with dental fears and anxiety can pass these onto their children without knowing or meaning to. We recommend having a calm approach and staying positive to help your child feel relaxed about visiting the dentist. 

Knowing what to expect during your child’s first dental visit can also help to put your mind at ease and prepare you for your child’s visit.

We hope this article has provided you with helpful tips and resources to manage dental treatments for your child with anxiety. If you have any questions, please contact us to discuss your child’s fears and how to best manage their dental anxiety – our friendly team is happy to help.


If your child is overdue for their next appointment give us a call on (02) 9188-0202 or book online here


This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics and to help begin the conversation with your children’s dentist. It should not be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your health care professional prior to incorporating this as part of your child’s diet or health regimen.

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