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    Kids’ Anxiety About Dentists May Be A Learned Trait…From Parents

    The Benefits of Staying Positive

    Contrary to popular belief, children aren’t born with a fear of the dentist. That fear may actually be learned. A new nationwide survey from Delta Dental finds that children may be picking up on their parents’ fear of visiting the dentist.
    Dental disease is preventable, not inevitable. And the way to ensure that is to have regular preventive check-up visits at the dentist.
    Delta Dental surveyed parents with children 12 and under and learned that nearly half the parents (48 percent) admitted to being nervous about going to the dentist; roughly the same number of their children (47 percent) shared the sentiment. Moms (55 percent) felt more nervous anticipation than dads (40 percent) ahead of the dental appointment, yet they tend to have an easier time getting their kids to go to the dentist. Still, 19 percent of moms said it’s one of the hardest things to do (vs 37 percent of dads).
    “Kids are quick to pick up on their parents’ anxieties, so parents should try to stay positive when talking with their children about dental visits,” said Dr. Linda Vidone, Delta Dental of Massachusetts Dental Director. “The survey results show that it is important for parents to remain relaxed and calm about their own visits as well as their child’s dental visit.”
    There is no reason for a child not to feel at ease. A routine dental visit is one of the most essential oral health habits for healthy teeth.
    “Dental science is so much more advanced today than it was when I was a kid.  We would much rather prevent cavities than have to repair teeth. And, dentists really do want children to have a pleasant visit, “said Dr. Vidone. “We recommend introducing your child to the dentist around his or her first birthday to start the habit of an annual or bi-annual visit.  The dental visit an opportunity to make sure the teeth are healthy, to see if there are early signs of disease and if there are, we can take steps to prevent disease from becoming severe enough for a filling. We will talk to the child and parent about taking care of teeth at home. We also watch to be sure the teeth are lining up properly in the mouth and will advise parents on the potential  need for braces.” 
    Here are tips to help children—and parents -- feel more comfortable about dentist visits:

    • Start young. Schedule your child’s first visit to the dentist within six months of getting the first tooth – and no later than the first birthday. Starting at a young age allows children and parents to establish a relationship with a dentist and helps start a lifelong habit of regular dentist visits. Be sure to ask your dentist about preventive services, like sealants or fluoride varnish. They give young teeth extra protection against the possibility of cavities.
    • Talk positively. Explain that the dentist is simply going to check the child’s smile and count the teeth. Unless your child specifically asks if the visit will be painful, don’t mention drills, fillings and shots.
    • Role play at home. Before a dental appointment, play dentist and patient with your child. Open your child’s mouth and count his or her teeth. Keep the experience positive—no drill sounds. Let your child play dentist to a toy or stuffed animal, pretending to brush and count its teeth.
    • Call ahead. Tell the dentist ahead of time that your child may be anxious about the visit. Most dental offices have toys or music that children can focus on instead of the appointment itself, helping them relax and making a trip a fun and enjoyable experience.
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    About Delta Dental of Massachusetts
    Delta Dental of Massachusetts (, the largest provider of dental benefits in the state, is a national leader in innovative programs to improve the overall health of our members, prevent oral disease, and reduce health care costs for employers, groups and individuals.  Headquartered in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Delta Dental of Massachusetts covers over 2 million members.
    Delta Dental of Massachusetts is a member of the not for profit Delta Dental Plans Association (, the leading national network of independent dental service corporations. Delta Dental provides dental benefits programs to 62 million Americans in more than 114,000 employee groups throughout the country. For more information, visit

    1Kelton, a leading global insights firm, conducted the 2015 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey. Interviews were conducted nationally via email with 1,325 parents of children ages 12 and under from Dec. 2, 2014 to Jan. 2, 2015. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of error is ±2.7 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.