Dental Anxiety in Children

Fear of the Dentist

It’s common for children—and adults—to feel afraid, stressed, or anxious when it comes to visiting their dentist. While many kids don’t enjoy going to the dentist, they don’t necessarily feel fear or anxiety but some children experience very real fear and anxiety. If parents and dentists don’t work together early on to reduce/eliminate these fears, it can develop into an actual phobia. At Dental School Pediatric Dentistry, our office is designed to help children feel safe, relaxed, and comfortable at each of their visits. We work at every visit to minimize fears and create positive dental experiences for children.

Why Do Children Fear the Dentist?

It’s normal to feel a little anxiety when a visit to the dentist is coming up, especially for children. But, to help your child with their dental anxiety, you should understand the reasons they’re feeling anxious.

  • Pain. Whether your child has heard about a painful experience that a parent or sibling had or if they’ve had a painful experience themselves, it’s understandable that they’re afraid. Children also often are afraid of needles associated with some dental work.
  • Embarrassment. If a child has obvious oral health issues, such as decay, they can feel self-conscious and embarrassed.
  • Lack of control. Fear of losing control is related to the fear of pain. A child knows that the big person with the pointy instruments is in charge. If there’s pain or discomfort, the child may very likely feel that he or she has no control over it.

Helping Your Child Overcome Dental Anxiety

As a parent, you can help your child manage and overcome their fears. We’ve included some of our dental anxiety management tips so you can help your children have a positive experience at every dental visit.

  1. Take them to the dentist early on. It’s recommended children visit a dentist when their first tooth appears or by their first birthday.
  2. Visit a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists are uniquely trained in caring for children’s oral health, including helping them feel safe and comfortable during visits.
  3. Let them bring something that comforts them such as a toy or blanket. This helps your child feel more comfortable during their entire visit.
  4. Speak positively about dental visits. The way you speak about the dentist can directly impact how your child sees the dentist; so it’s important that you don’t speak poorly about dental visits.
  5. Focus on practicing good oral health habits at home. When children are familiar with brushing, flossing, and the importance of oral health, it helps them have fewer oral health issues and more-positive experiences at the dentist.
  6. Give positve reniforcment. Before, during, and after dental visits, give your child praise for being able to take the steps required to have a healthy smile.

If you have any questions about pediatric dental anxiety or are ready to schedule your child’s dental visit—contact the Dental School Pediatric Dentistry team in Goodlettsville, TN.

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How To Stop Thumb Sucking Habit

How To Stop Your Child From A Thumb Sucking Habit

Young children and babies learn to suck their thumb as a natural reflex. It becomes innate behavior because they had to suckle their milk to get nutrition when they were young. It is a self-soothing behavior and can stay with them as they grow. At first, this habit may seem harmless, but it can eventually lead to a changing mouth shape, which creates an overbite. If your child doesn’t break this habit before their permanent teeth come in, there is a chance that their palate may need correcting along with braces to straighten their teeth. Our doctors at Dental School Pediatric Dentistry urge parents to take precautions early on to avoid serious dental work as their child gets older. 

Ways to Help Your Child Stop The Habit

  1. Use positive reinforcement. Always praise and reward your child when they don’t suck their thumb – this can be done through reward charts or gentle reminders.
  2. Keep the hands busy and provide distraction. You won’t be able to keep your child distracted at all times, but this can work in conjunction with other methods. These methods can include arts and crafts, dancing, writing, jewelry making, sports, baking, biking, etc.
  3. Mask wearing. Due to COVID-19, your child most likely wears a mask when they visit public places. This is an added benefit since your child cannot suck their thumb with a mask on!
  4. Thumb guards. Thumb guards can be a great solution for your child because it allows them to still engage in daily activities without much difficulty. The sides of the thumb guard have air holes so your child cannot create suction when trying to suck it. Your pediatric dentist may have suggestions as to what brand to use.

Always remember to praise your child and to not ridicule or make them feel bad for this behavior – the damage of doing this can be lifelong and could do nothing to help them. In order for your child to break their thumb-sucking habit, you’ll need to keep it positive and upbeat to encourage them. 


At Dental School Pediatric Dentistry, we work with you and your child to break their thumb-sucking habits. We know that once it becomes a habit, it is very hard to break. With the use of positive reinforcement, healthy distractions, and thumb guards, we can help stop your child from sucking their thumb.


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Pediatric Dental Fillings

Pediatric Dental Fillings in Goodlettsville, TN

It can be distressing to learn from your child’s dentist that your child has a cavity in one of their teeth. If cavities are left untreated, it can lead to negative consequences for both the children and parents. Luckily, a pediatric dentist can keep your kid’s teeth healthy. At Dental School Pediatric Dentistry in Goodlettsville, TN we offer pediatric dental fillings and sealants to help prevent and stop the spread of cavities in kids.

What Causes Cavities in Kids? 

The breakdown of tooth enamel is called tooth decay. Tooth decay can eventually lead to cavities (holes in the teeth). Tooth decay is caused by bacteria and occurs when foods that contain carbohydrates are left on the teeth.

Foods such as soda, milk, candy, cake, raisins, fruit juices, bread and cereals can be the culprit for tooth decay. The bacteria that lives in the mouth changes these foods into acids. The combination of food, bacteria, saliva and acid form plaque which sticks on the teeth. Over time, the acids made by the bacteria will eventually eat away at your tooth enamel causing cavities.

All kids are at risk for tooth decay because all kids have bacteria in their mouths. However, certain factors play a part in raising a child’s risk for it. These factors include poor oral hygiene, a diet high in starches and sugars, high levels of the bacteria that end up causing cavities or less saliva flow than normal.

It is important to treat dental decay as soon as possible or it can become worse and lead to more serious oral health problems. Problems caused by childhood dental cavities are advanced dental infections, mouth pain, gum disease, damage to permanent teeth, disrupted speech development and in some cases, tooth loss.

Tooth Filling Procedure

If your child needs a dental filling, there are three simple steps to the process. First, we will make sure that the tooth and surrounding tissues are numbed so your child has a pain-free dental experience. Then, one of our pediatric dentists (Dr. Juhn or Dr. Stark) will remove the bacteria and decay from the cavity in the affected tooth and will thoroughly clean and disinfect the cavity. Once it is cleaned, the filling material is applied to the sterile dental cavity, and then it hardens.

Dental fillings are one of the simplest dental procedures. If your child properly cares for his or her dental fillings by brushing twice a day, flossing daily and visiting their dentist every 6 months for a checkup, their fillings could last for years.

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