Kids don't come with a built-in fear of the dentist. But they are impressionable. A place like the dentist's office -- with its big chairs, bright lights, strange noises and funny looking tools -- can be scary for little ones. The trick is finding a way to make these strange and new experiences fun, not scary. The better your child's experiences are with the dentist early on, the less likely he or she will be to develop a fear of the dentist.
Skipping dental checkups shouldn't be an option. Regular dental visits help protect against cavities, dental abscesses and other more serious and painful dental problems. It's important for kids to visit the dentist regularly -- once every six months -- even when there's nothing wrong. Routine visits are far less traumatic than infrequent visits that involve discomfort or pain.
If you've got dental anxiety, your child will pick up on that and be fearful, too. Avoid negative words when you're talking about the dentist and never suggest that anything will be painful. And don't share any negative experiences you might have had with the dentist with your child. The goal is for your child to look forward to seeing the dentist every six months, not dread it.