Parents Pass Fear of Dentists to their Children

Don’t let your children think your dentist is from Little Shop of Horrors

If you’re afraid of visiting the dentist, whether your fear is mild anxiety or full-blown dentophobia, chances are you’re passing this fear to your children.

A new survey conducted in the US found that parents who fear dentists or visiting the dentist typically have children who develop the same fear. These parents do not keep their fears and feelings about the dentist to themselves, and as a result, they pass on their anxieties to their children, which often prevents them from visiting a dentist regularly as they grow up.

The survey was conducted among parents of young children, aged from infant to 11 years old. The researchers found that almost 30 percent of the children of parents surveyed were afraid to visit the dentist. Among children who parents feared the dentist, the number increased to 40 percent. Of the children whose parents were not afraid of the dentist, only 24 percent said they had a fear of dentists.

The parents surveyed explained that their children who were afraid of the dentist were so because of sensitive teeth (17%), the noises and smells of the dentist (11%), the dentist drill (10%), and injections (9%).

“It is important that the parent or caregiver responsible for taking children to the dentist remain relaxed and calm to make their visits as comfortable as possible,” stressed Dr. Bill Kohn, Delta Dental’s vice president for dental science and policy. “Kids who have negative experiences at the dentist may be less inclined to make regular visits as teens and adults.”

Even if you are afraid of visiting the dentist, be mindful of what you say about your dental experiences in front of your children. No matter your fears, you need your children to not be afraid of the dentist so they will be more likely to continue to see the dentist as they get older. If your child has a bad experience, talk to your child about it, and even talk to your child’s dentist about the experience the next visit. With your dentist, you can talk through the experience with your child to make the child feel more at ease about future visits.

This survey was conducted online on behalf of Delta Dental, one of the largest dental benefits carriers in the U.S.

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