Why Do Children Fear the Dentist?

Pediatric Dentistry for Avon, Connecticut

Is There A Reason for Children to Fear the Dentist?

Kids have irrational fears of many things. From monsters hiding in the closet to having to take a bath it's can somewhat comical listening to a child explain what he or she is afraid of. One fear that seems to be a constant with most children is the dentist. A child doesn't even have to have been to a dentist to have a fear about this dreaded person.

So why is it that children cling to this very real fear of the dentist? First off, dentists are not alone when it comes to feeling the wrath of a child's fear. Doctors also get a cold reception when a child comes in for a checkup and it can take a few visits before kids start warming up to a pediatrician.

But dentists seem to have it the worse and it's worth examining some of the reasons why that is so.

Pop Culture

Unfortunately, pop culture has a lot do with dentists being viewed as merchants of pain. Cartoons, comic books and other child-oriented media poke plenty of fun at dentists and often have episodes that show evil-looking dentists wielding long syringes and industrial size drills while a helpless child writhes in the dentist chair. Just like workers uniting against a boss, dentists bear the brunt of being the bad guy because for many it's an easy target.

Even movies and television shows often have episodes and scenes that make fun of a visit to the dentist because it will involve a painful root canal or the pulling of a damaged tooth. These types of scenes get easy laughs and Hollywood isn't going to give up on a tried and tested formula.


Children take most of their cues from their parents and even though they are young, they can sense when mom and dad are nervous. If you demonstrate a fear of visiting the dentist guess what, your kids will too. It's very important for parents to put on a brave face when they have to visit the dentist so their children don't pick up on their fears and develop their own. It also doesn't help when mom and dad come back from a root canal or other procedure that has them in pain and groaning. While this can't be entirely stopped, it may help to keep your child from witnessing your pain.

Bad First Experience

In some cases, the fear is justified. If a child is allowed to go several years without a visit to the dentist and has parents that don't monitor what they eat, their first visit can be a painful one. Cavities are sure to form when kids are allowed to indulge in sugary treats and it's no wonder that a child will want to avoid the dentist after that first cleaning and cavity treatment. Of course, this uncomfortable experience can be avoided if parents take their child to the dentist as a toddler and are shown the proper way to care for their teeth.

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The Kids' Dentists of CT Pediatric Dentistry   (Click their photo for more info)

David Epstein
CT Pediatric Dentist
David Epstein
A.B., D.D.S., M.S.D.

23 Jan 2022 12:05 AM