Parent’s dental fears may pass on to children


About 75% of American adults experience at least some form of fear (even if very mild) when visiting the dentist or encountering a dental procedure. 5 to 10% of the American adult population experience actual dental phobia, meaning they avoid dental visits at all costs. This can lead to a cycle where every dental visit is a dental emergency because of lack of preventative care. These emergencies can end up in invasive procedures that reinforce the original fear. If you experience dental phobia, sedation may be for you. Check out more info on our website, or call us at 410-596-2096 for more information about sedation dentistry.

Researchers began studying the incidence of dental phobia in children, when their parents also experience a fear of the dentist. Not surprisingly, many children whose parents (especially fathers) are afraid of the dentist are also afraid of the dentist. This may be due to several different factors, including:

  • lack of exposure– Parents with a dental phobia are often more likely to skip regular dental exams for their children. Even if children do receive regular dental care, it is important for them to see their parents react in a calm, relaxed manner when in the dental chair. Bring your children along to the dentist to watch. Studies prove that children gauge the emotions of their fathers most often when deciding if a situation is scary or not, however, it is equally important for mom to appear relaxed and calm in the dental chair.
  • modeling: Children of parents with a dental phobia may pick up their parent’s subtle hints that the dentist is not a fun place to visit. Children may overhear adult conversations or just pick up on the tone of voice or general attitude toward the dentist.

Stay tuned next week for a more detailed discussion on dental phobia.

About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)

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