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People share fears and absorb anxieties from each other. Children naturally fear the unknown and it is the job of parents to be calm and demonstrate confidence when children become scared.

The anticipation of a medical or dental appointment sends some children into a panic and research has shown that parental feelings and attitudes about going to the dentist can magnify in children.

A 2012 study identified the influence of fathers in transferring dental fear from parents to children. Researchers surveyed 183 Madrid children between age 7 and 12 years old and found that they pay special attention to emotional cues from their fathers when deciding how to feel about going to the dentist. In addition, children looked to their fathers when interpreting their mother’s feelings of fear and anxiety. The findings suggested that parents should be involved with their children in reducing fear of going to the dentist and that they should lead by example by becoming informed and going to the dentist themselves while not showing any fear or anxiety.

A model of dental fear in children published in a British journal attributed anxiety to the following causes:  a fear of pain or anticipation of pain, a lack of trust or the fear of betrayal, a fear of loss of control, a fear of the unknown, and a fear of intrusion. While talking to children, parents should discuss with their children the source of their fears and address that fear at a level that they can understand.

In order to help your child’s dental visit be pleasant, choose a friendly dentist who is good with children. WebMD advises that parents recognize that it is normal for children to be fearful. At the following link is some other advice on how to ease children’s fears of going to the dentist.