Guide to Our Process of Addressing Dental Anxiety in Children

Dental treatments represent a quite stressful activity that can influence all its participants, especially children. children often show their distress with an aversive behaviour which sometimes leads to management problems.

According to an article in the European journal, parents play a key role in children’s behaviour at the dental office. An anxious or fearful parent can adversely affect the child’s behaviour during dental treatment. Additionally, some studies suggest a strong correlation between maternal anxiety and similar behaviour of children who were undergoing dental treatment.

We at Molonglo Dental Surgery understand the challenges parents/primary caregivers face in convincing and bringing their children to our dental office for treatment. Therefore with the help of this article, we will provide you with a few approaches and cues to make your child’s first dental visit less challenging.

 Importance of the pre-appointment phone call

  • Speaking to your child’s dentist, before an appointment, is recommended. Understanding the procedure of the check-up and the probability of your child’s uncooperative behaviour may help you be better prepared for the first appointment. In addition, This will establish a rapport with your child’s dentist and help in addressing your concerns, if any.

Molonglo dental surgery prides itself on providing dentistry for kids in Canberra. You may call us on 0262871222 for your child’s/ward’s dental appointment.

Pre-appointment preparation

To provide successful dental care to children, dentists cannot simply adopt their usual techniques. They must modify them to suit the unique needs of the paediatric patient population.

Children often wish for a routine and familiarity. New environments and conditions can be bothersome and result in negative behaviours. Preparation before the first dental appointment can lay the foundation for a successful dental visit.

The following recommendations from our team at Molonglo Dental Surgery may help in alleviating your apprehensions as well as those of your child :

  • You may read a story or watch a video with your child about a kid going to the dentist for the first time. Children may relate to the characters in the book/video and may experience less fear during their first appointment. Familiarising your dentist about the same may aid your child’s dentist in establishing a relationship while treating your child.

The animated episodes of Peppa Pig or the musical shows of the Wiggles have videos that depict the benefits of a visit to a dentist and the fun elements related to it.

  • Unfavourable references/suggestions towards the dentist/dentistry must strictly be avoided. Kindly do not Prepare your child by saying, “the dentist will not hurt you” or
  • “ you will receive a treat or toy “ after the dental appointment.This will decrease the success of his/her first dental appointment, should there be any sudden behavioural changes in your child.
  • Instead, a parent/primary caregiver can calmly inform the ward/child of the appointment either the day before or on the morning of the appointment.
  • Positive statements like, “ the dentist will simply count your teeth”, “ the dentist wants to check your teeth for bugs” or “ the dentist will teach you a fun way to brush your teeth” will positively reinforce the child and probably abate some fears that he/she may have.
  • It is preferable if your child is well-rested before the dental appointment. If you find that your child is more ‘receptive’ in the morning, we recommend a consultation in the morning. On the contrary, if you find your child is in a better mood after his/her afternoon nap, we suggest a post-nap appointment.
  • Roleplay with your child. Allow your child to be a ‘dentist’ while you may be his/her ‘patient’. Let your child look into your mouth and count your teeth. Thereafter, you may be the ‘dentist’ with your child as a ‘patient’. Count his/her teeth, comment on how clean his/her mouth is and ‘talk about that funny little thing called the tongue’. This may help in getting our child comfortable with having the dentist look into his/her mouth during the first dental appointment.
  • A child is very receptive to the moods of his/her parents/primary caregivers. A child is conscious of the tone of their voice, facial expressions and the general body language. Therefore, at Molonglo Dental Surgery, we advise the parents/primary caregivers to remain calm and relaxed during your child’s dental appointment.
  • We at Molonglo Dental Surgery are aware that some studies suggest that at least 5 percent of the Australian population suffers from dental anxiety. If you think that you or the primary caregiver of the child in question, could be experiencing dental anxiety in any form, please give us a call prior to your child’s dental appointment to chat with a dentist specializing in anxiety at our clinic.
  • An older sibling(s) of the paediatric patient plays a pivotal role in shaping the behaviour of their younger brother/sister’s dental appointment.If they are comfortable and not anxious about sitting in a dental chair and having the dentist look into their mouths, they may act act as ideal role models for their younger sibling(s). This may prevent any untowardly behaviour during their dental appointment.
  • Your friendly Canberra dentist at Molonglo dental surgery suggests bringing the patient’s older sibling for the dental appointment, when possible, in order to put your younger child at ease in the dental chair.
  • It is preferable if words such as “shot”, “drill”, “needle” or “x ray” are not spoken of around your child before his/her dental appointment. These words may instil an undue fear in them and urge them to throw tantrums prior to their appointment.
  • Instead a cheerful statement such as “ the tooth doctor will take pictures of your teeth” will help create a positive attitude towards their first dental appointment.

Behaviour during the appointment

Often, despite following the aforementioned directions, your child’s behaviour may still remain hostile towards the dentist. In that case, the following information may help you cope with that crisis :

  • At Molonglo Dental Surgery we advise the parents/caregivers of our little patients to bring their children/wards for their first dental visit at the age of 2 years. This ensures that your child/ward is accustomed to his/her dentist and the dental clinic and hence develops a rapport with the treating dentist over time.
  • It is alright if your child cries during the first visit. A child being brought into an unfamiliar environment will react by throwing tantrums or by sobbing loudly . However, we at Molonglo Dental Surgery advise our primary caregivers/parents to Remain supportive and assist the dentist in calming the child and creating a cheerful first appointment.

We at Molonglo Dental Surgery understand kids are uncomfortable sitting in an adult dental chair,  being in an unfamiliar environment, looking at intimidating instruments and being shone on with bright light in their face.

Therefore we take the utmost pride in announcing that Molonglo Dental Surgery is the first dental practice in the whole of Canberra to install the Dinosaur Chair! In addition to its many extraordinary elements, the Dino Chair is a paediatric-focused innovation that paves the way for successful treatment outcomes.

To know more about this wonderful installation and how it could help you and your child/ward, log onto our website at

  • Generally, the first appointment is about examining the child’s teeth. X-rays and drills are generally avoided unless there appears to be an emergency.
  • At Molonglo Dental Surgery, your friendly Canberra dentist might recommend a professional fluoride application for all children and adolescents. Additionally the fluoride application must be repeated every 6 months. The Flouride treatment simply increases the resistance of the teeth against caries or ‘cavities’. To know more about Fluoride application and other treatments that can protect your child’s teeth, you may contact your kid friendly dentist on 0262871222.
  • Another pearl of wisdom for our loving parents/caregivers is to get your kids/wards to practice keeping their mouths open and not chat while doing so. This will improve our chances of a quicker and better examination and treatment in the clinic.
  • As widely known, a child takes some time to believe in a person other than his/her parents. In addition, as parents/caregivers, we often tell our children/wards ‘ do not talk to strangers’. This often creates some confusion in the child about who he/she must talk to. Hence when the dentist tries to talk to your child/ward, the parents/caregivers should kindly allow the child to converse with the dentist. Permitting a one-to-one interaction with a dentist, will put your child/ward at ease in the dental chair and ensure a better treatment outcome.

Children are innocent and lack maturity. A child who begins cooperating at the start of an appointment may begin fretting and squirming suddenly in the dental chair and refuse treatment. At these times, the appointment may have to be shortened or rescheduled.

However, it must be noted that each time your child visits the dentist, he/she will steadily develop a trustworthy bond with the dentist. Subsequently, your child will also be more likely to be willing to learn good oral hygiene skills and will want to take good care of their teeth. As we know, children who acquire good oral hygiene routines will carry these habits into their adult life.

Therefore at Molonglo Dental Surgery, we recommend to our wonderful parents/primary caregivers, unless the attitude or treatment of a dentist is grossly inappropriate, avoid visiting multiple dentists for your or your child’s treatment.

As a wise man once said, “Sometimes real superheroes live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles.”  All that our little superheroes need is a good laugh and ample care.

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