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Let’s just start by saying that dental anxiety is real. Even kids can experience it! In some cases, the fear has really obvious causes (such as a traumatic experience at the dentist office); in other cases, the cause is harder to pinpoint. But it’s a real thing. Going to the dentist can trigger the same kind of terror that some kids might feel about spiders or heights or flying or needles or…you get the picture.

It’s normal for kids to start off being a little nervous about going to the dentist (most adults feel that way too right?). But for some, this tension runs much deeper than it does for others. While it’s not really possible to completely differentiate between the usual dental qualms and what might be a deeper level of anxiety, we want to talk about dental fear and see if we can help you determine what your child is working through so that you can come alongside them in the best way.

If you’re wondering whether your child is feeling normal nervousness or whether they are experiencing anxiety, here are some anxiety markers from Colgate:

  • They have trouble sleeping the night before a dental exam.
  • They get increasingly nervous while you’re in the waiting room.
  • They have a meltdown when you mention going to the dentist.
  • The sight of dental instruments — or of white-coated personnel in the dentist’s office — increases their stress.
  • They get physically ill.
  • They panic or have trouble breathing when dental instruments are put in their mouth during a dental appointment.

In our next post, we’ll talk about how to help your kid overcome dental anxiety, but the bottom line is this: if dental fear is complicating or compromising your child’s oral healthcare, we want to help you find a way forward.