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Fear of the dentist is quite a common problem in children, as it is usually an unfamiliar situation that can worry them. This fear is due to various factors, such as a negative experience or a remark or reaction from other children or adults

According to a study, almost a third of Spanish children aged 0 to 18 years say they are afraid of the dentist (32.99%). The main reason is usually pain (95.93%), followed by needles (92.12%).

According to parents, almost half of the children (49.76%) are afraid of the dentist (22.04%) or are anxious and uncomfortable (27.72%) when they enter the waiting room. On the other hand, this percentage increases when they are in the dentist’s office (57.43%).

When children are afraid of the dentist, their fear is uncontrollable and in many cases the appointment takes longer than usual because the child finds it difficult to follow the dentist’s instructions.

Therefore, in the following article we will give you a number of tips on how to help your child overcome their fear of the dentist and make a visit to the dentist an adventure.


Dental phobia is a phobia or irrational fear of having to go to the dentist. This problem is psychological because children’s fear is usually unfounded because they have the misconception that the dentist will cause them pain

On the other hand, the opposite is true: if they feel uncomfortable, the paediatric dentist will help them solve this problem through a dental examination and the choice of the right treatment.


As with adults, there are many reasons why children are afraid of the dentist. Therefore, it is important to know what causes this fear

Some of the reasons why children suffer from odontophobia are:

  • Fear of the unknown: It is inevitable that the child will feel uncomfortable and anxious when they go to a place they are not familiar with. Therefore, it is important to create a positive and comfortable atmosphere in the clinic.
    • Bad experiences: If the child has experienced a traumatic event in the past, this can trigger anxiety. However, it is not only because of their own experiences that they can suffer from dental fear, but the parents can also pass on this phobia to the child because of their own experiences.
    • Fear of pain: Sometimes they only go to the dentist when they are in pain, so they only focus on the pain. Therefore, it is important that children go to the dentist regularly from a young age to prevent future complications by making a visit to the dentist a routine.

You should bear in mind that the earlier children associate a visit to the dentist with something negative that scares them, the greater the fear, especially before the age of five when they are more sensitive.

Therefore, it is important that the paediatric dentist calms and relaxes the children and also has some empathy and patience with children who are afraid of the dentist.


Children often express their dental phobia symptomatically rather than verbally

The most common symptoms of dental phobia include:

  • Uncontrollable crying on arrival at the dentist.
    • Hiding behind family members.
    • Sweating.
    • Changes in tone of voice.
    • Shaky breathing.
    • Nausea before going to the dentist.

That is why the role of parents is so important: they should try to calm the child down and make sure that he or she gradually gets rid of this fear.


One of the most effective ways to prevent this fear is to take your child to the dentist before their first visit so that they can familiarise themselves with the clinic and its surroundings

For example, if the parents or siblings have to go for a check-up, this is a good opportunity for the child to accompany them. This way, it will see that it is not a big deal and instil confidence and security.

Here are some tips that can help children overcome their fear of the dentist:

  • Talk to your child: before going to the dentist, try to find out what they are afraid of, always in a gentle and friendly tone to help and understand. Be sure to avoid words with negative connotations, such as ‘hurt’ or ‘painful’, as this could put the child off and cause them to internalise such thoughts.
    • Role play: It is important for children to participate in this type of activity as it helps them develop social and emotional skills. If possible, play such a game with the child where you are both the patient and the dentist. This way, the child associates the image of the paediatric dentist as something normal and feels more comfortable about going to the dentist. If he or she is reluctant, do not put pressure on him or her, as this can make the situation worse.
    • Listen to music: Music can calm people down when they are scared or anxious. Therefore, it is good to create a playlist that the child can listen to before going to the dentist or even in the dental office if the dentist allows it.
    • Good atmosphere in the dental practise: It is important that children feel comfortable in the dental practise. So help them get familiar with the dental instruments, answer all their questions and motivate them to take care of their mouth. If you choose a clinic that specialises in treating children and has a pleasant atmosphere, the treatment will also be much more pleasant.
    • Reinforce the behaviour: When the child has left the dentist, let them know how happy and proud we are of their good behaviour. The attention of the parents is the most important reinforcement.


The dentist’s gaze is essential for children who are afraid of the dentist, as this can influence the development of this phobia. Therefore, understanding and patience on the part of the medical team are essential.

The specialist must empathise with the child and create a relaxed atmosphere. It is important to create this atmosphere from the first appointment by explaining in detail to both parents and children what is going to happen, showing the instruments and imitating some of the necessary actions.

The paediatric dentist and his team should always have a positive attitude, because their actions are crucial for a positive reaction from the child.  

At Moonz, children will find a magical place where they feel like the only protagonists while they have fun and learn, because we have a play area with point systems and rewards for their efforts

In addition, our specialists help children to calm down by taking slow, deep breaths. To do this, we use techniques such as music therapy or other graphic stimuli such as our blackboard, on which they can let their imagination run wild, stories, etc. Always with distractions and games that capture their attention

This is why it is important to go to a dental clinic for children, because there they can have fun while waiting to go to the treatment room and at the same time take care of their oral health.


  • Boj JR., Lischeid C., Espasa E. Y Jiménez A. (1993): “El manejo de la conducta  y de la ansiedad en odontología infantil”. Revista Vasca de Odontoestomatología III (6). Pp 444-451.
  • Locker D. Et Al. (1996): “Negative dental experiences and their relationship to dental anxiety”. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol, 13 (2). Pp 86-92.
  • Márquez J. A. Et Al. (2004): “¿Por qué se tiene miedo al dentista?. RCOE, 9 (2). Pp 165-174.

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