How to Help Your Teen Overcome a Dental Phobia

Posted on: 24 April 2017


Dental phobias are extremely common in children, and fears can sometimes endure until the teen years. While it's easy to read a young child positive stories about the dentist, promise them treats at the end of their appointment, or give them a cuddle when they're scared, teens can feel trickier to help. Your teen may deny their dental phobia, be embarrassed, or refuse to discuss the issue with you. These tips will help you deal with the situation in a way that doesn't make your teen feel uncomfortable or humiliated.

Discuss the reason for their fears

Dental phobias sometimes arise as a result of bad experiences in the past. If your teen had lots of problems with their teeth as a child, they might have come to associate the dentist with pain and fear. Taking some time to talk to your teen about exactly what's worrying them will allow you to help as effectively as possible. Try not to make too many assumptions. While you might be sure your teen is afraid of being in pain during their appointment, their fears could be completely different. They might be nervous about speaking to the surgery receptionist, finding the right room, or making small talk with the dentist. Let your teen know that you'll support them any way you can, regardless of how 'silly' their worries might sound.

Choose an accommodating dentist

Picking a dentist who caters specifically to nervous patients can be really helpful. A dentist who is friendly, polite and reassuring can turn an appointment from scary to okay in minutes. A good dentist will fully explain what they're going to do and why and will take time to reassure your teen if there's anything they're not sure about.

Stay in the room during their appointment

Your teenage might be worried that they'll be all alone in the dentist's office now that they're older. Let them know that you can stay in the room with them for as long as they like, and point out that it's not uncommon. Plenty of adults bring a supportive family member along to medical appointments, so there's no need to feel embarrassed.

Reward them for going to the dentist

It's hard to face up to a fear, so make sure you acknowledge your teen's hard work after a visit to the dentist. You could take them to a favourite place, buy takeout for dinner, or grab a movie together. Anything that builds up positive associations around the dentist will help.