Reduce Dental Anxiety with “The Kids’ Guide to the Dentist”

Going to the dentist can be scary for children, so it’s important to address their dental anxiety in a way that’s both kind and encouraging. Helping a child face their fears of the dentist will help set them up for a positive interaction and a stronger lifetime relationship with dentistry. 

Common Causes of Dental Anxiety

Think about some of the reasons why your anxiety flares up as an adult. The fear of the unknown or remembering uncomfortable experiences are probably pretty big contributors, right? Kids have similar feelings, but coupled with big imaginations that can lead them to picture scenarios that create further fear and anxiety. An anxious child will also focus on previous stressful dental experiences, causing even more anxiety.

Infographic showing common dental anxiety triggers.


Put Young Patients at Ease by Preparing Them for Their Visit

To help put your young patients at ease, we created The Kids’ Guide to the Dentist as a free resource for your office! Follow along as a little lion cub has their first visit to the dentist and meets Dr. Bear! This educational coloring book will show kids what to expect during their appointments and take some of the anxiety out of a dental visit. The book is filled with activities like coloring pages, mazes, and connect-the-dots to keep kids engaged and entertained throughout the story. It’s written with kids language in mind and is perfect for preschool reading levels and beyond.

This guide can be easily printed off from your office printer as a waiting room activity. Or you can send it out to parents as a PDF to share with their kids before their dental appointments.

You can even request a custom version with your name as the dentist in the story, free of charge. Anywhere “Dr. Bear” appears will be replaced with your name instead. You can download the generic Dr. Bear version as well if you don’t want it customized.

Request your copy of the guide from the form below:

You can’t control the past experiences of your young dental patients, but you can control the current and future ones. Understanding what could have contributed to their dental anxiety and your willingness to help them overcome it will truly make a difference in their attitude and appointment success. 

Interested in other helpful, free resources for your young patients? Check out these related resources:

IDS Kids Club – Kids can learn to draw with a series of videos and activity sheets!

New call-to-action



  • envelope


What to Include in Your Perfect Indoor Family Play Area

Tips for Creating a Presentation Area in Your Children’s Library

Creating a Sense of Fun and Nostalgia for The Next Generation of Kids

How (and Why) to Help Kids with Anxiety About the Dentist

Good experiences are worth repeating. That truth applies to your strategies for helping kids with anxiety in your dental office – a result that can improve your patient retention too.

Children can sometimes experience fear about their next dental appointment. A positive patient experience can increase the likelihood that they won’t dread it.


Aversion to dental care often begins early. Helping a child face their fears now will help assure their positive, lifetime relationship with dentistry.

Dental anxiety is simply the fear felt about seeking or receiving dental care. It’s also helpful to understand that it goes deeper than merely not wanting to go to a dental appointment.

The fear is real. And here’s why.

Anxiety is the body’s response to a perceived threat or danger. The physical changes that occur inside a person feeling fear attaches to their memory and the particular social situation.

Human beings have a unique relationship with anxiety. For example, a child feeling anxious will engage their memory and imagination to rehearse the experience.

Essentially, a child’s memory of an anxious experience can enlarge it into a potential outcome that produces fear. Whether it occurs or not isn’t the issue – the anxiety is there!

All this to say: dental anxiety is a credible issue for children especially. It could present as…

  • “Acting out”
  • Crying
  • Tantrums
  • Lack of cooperation
  • And more…


You can’t control the past experiences of your young dental patients. But you can control the current and future ones as you understand what could have contributed to their dental anxiety.


Children can feel self-conscious about their oral health as adults do. Tooth decay, bad breath, misaligned or crooked teeth, and more can create embarrassing moments for them.

Needles and “Shots” (Injections)

Kids like adults have a perception about needles. Remember, the anticipated pain associated with a shot or injection can create strong feelings of anxiety prior to a dental appointment.


The general feeling of being out-of-control is often associated with sedation. For some, wearing a mask or having their nose covered will lead to anxious reactions.


Who likes pain? Even the thought of a perceived painful experience can lead to anxiety about dental treatment.


Feeling as if a circumstance is beyond one’s control can cause panic and anxiety. Any pain that’s felt can lead a child to experience a sense that nothing will provide relief.


A long period of time since the previous dental visit can contribute to anxiety in children. It’s common to assume that more problems (e.g. cavities, etc) will be the result of not consistently visiting your office. And in their mind, that’s more potential discomfort and thus more anxiety.

The “Unknown”

Children imagine what a visit to the dentist is like. This especially follows stories they’ve heard or what they’ve gleaned from another’s negative experience.


Be The “Right Dentist”

Parents will seek a dentist based on the collective experiences of others. Keep in mind that many search on the assumption that all dentists are alike.

The difference for you could be based on your “reputation” relative to care quality and sensitivity to patient perception – including dental anxiety.

  • Create a themed environment that’s visibly attentive to children.
  • Ease anxiety through clear communication about procedures, appointment protocols, and preliminary conversations.
  • (If applicable) talk about and promote your own family to give the impression that you understand a child’s perspective.

Communicate and Clarify

Provide families as much appointment information as possible. This helps create predictability for their child ahead of their visit.

  • Give parents/families the resources to answer questions with care and confidence prior to a dental visit.
  • Chat with the parent/family about the questions their child/children have about dentistry.
  • Clarify appointment details and eliminate any “surprises” prior to their arrival.
  • Put kids at-ease about dental care by reminding them of the benefits of good oral health habits.

New call-to-action

Provide a “Calming” Experience

Your dental practice environment sets the tone for a child’s dental appointment. From the moment they arrive assure them that your office is a “kid-friendly” place to receive dental care.

  • Manage each transition during their visit. When appropriate allow a parent/family member to accompany their child as necessary during the appointment.
  • Enhance their feeling of security by letting them bring personal items from home (e.g. stuffed animal, blanket, etc).
  • Lighten the mood by asking about their interests, hobbies, accomplishments, etc.


Outstanding patient experience for children and families begins with a kid-centric mindset and environment. Check out these related resources for upgrading, renewing, and providing anxiety-free dental visits:

5 Goals for Improving Patient Experience in Your Pediatric Dental Practice

Our Top 5 Hands-Free Waiting Room Ideas to Engage and Entertain Patients

5 Tips for Creating the Experience Parents Really Want While in the Waiting Room (But Won’t Tell You!)


Download Our White Paper: Alleviating Patient Anxiety Through Office Theming


Valuing your patients and their families sets them up for a lifetime of positive health outcomes. And the environment you create can help you achieve a better patient experience.

  • Reduce patient anxiety and enhance their relaxation
  • Prime patients and families for their appointments
  • Create positive dental care experiences

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office into an anxiety-free patient experience.



  • envelope


What to Include in Your Perfect Indoor Family Play Area

Tips for Creating a Presentation Area in Your Children’s Library

Creating a Sense of Fun and Nostalgia for The Next Generation of Kids

Tips for Celebrating Holidays in Your Dental or Medical Office

Kids love holidays! Celebrate the holidays in your office with costumes, decorations, and contests! If you have IDS office theming, don’t miss the opportunity to throw a Santa hat on an elephant or turn a crocodile into a spooky ghost for Halloween! Fun photo opportunities are available everywhere in your themed office. Here are some other ideas for ways you can celebrate the holidays with your patients.

Celebrating Different Holidays in Your Dental Office in Ways Your Patients Will Love

Halloween Office Celebration Ideas

October is the gateway to plenty of office decorating opportunities! Decorations, additional props, and even costume contests are a great way to engage patients and show off your festive spirit.

Organize a pumpkin carving contest either with patients or with your staff. Showcase their carving skills and give your patients a laugh. Display the carved pumpkins in a designated area for everyone to enjoy, and let your employees or social media followers vote for their favorites.

With your staff, arrange a Halloween-themed potluck lunch where employees can bring in dishes inspired by the season. Encourage creativity by incorporating spooky or whimsical twists into traditional recipes. Take some pictures and show them off on social media.

The holidays can also be used as an important educational tool for children in many dental offices. After Halloween, many children participate in ‘Candy Buyback’ events that allow kids to bring their candy to their local dental office in exchange for money or small dental-related gifts.

Not only does this teach your patients about the importance of healthy eating habits, it also gives them the opportunity to donate to a cause. Many Candy Buyback events donate the collected candy to military troops overseas to lift their spirits during the holidays.

Thanksgiving Office Celebration Ideas

November welcomes in Thanksgiving, which has become one of the biggest holidays in America, even bigger than Christmas.

The appeal of Thanksgiving lies in its simplicity and universality. It’s a holiday centered around a fundamental human experience — gratitude. Regardless of background or belief, people across the nation come together to appreciate the good things life has to offer. You could have a food drive to donate to your local shelter to help them provide meals for the less fortunate.

Set up a gratitude wall where children or your staff can write or draw what they are thankful for. Cut out some leaf shapes and have your staff write what they are thankful for this year, filling it with happy vibes.

Thanksgiving is also a great time to decorate with arts and crafts made by your patients (turkey hands, anyone?). Encouraging children to be creative in the waiting room helps to distract kids from any dental worries, while nurturing their imagination.

As a parting gift to your patients, provide children with Thanksgiving-themed dental goodie bags. Include items like the usual toothbrushes and floss, but also throw in stickers with festive designs.

Christmas and Other Holiday Celebration Ideas

In December the spirit of giving is at its peak. This month is the perfect opportunity to educate children on the importance of charity along with health. As a local business and leader in the community, you can host contests or raffles encouraging patients to support local charities. Host contests to see how many toothbrushes your patients can collect to donate to a local shelter. 

Decorate the office with a touch of holiday spirit, but keep it professional and neutral. Avoid overly religious or potentially divisive decorations. Consider using seasonal decorations that create a warm and welcoming atmosphere without being tied to a specific religious tradition. This is also the perfect time to turn your office into a winter wonderland through the addition of fluffy snow, holiday hats, and cut-paper snowflakes made by your patients!

A coloring contest can be a great way to get your social media hopping. Post the coloring pages and host a contest to get some social buzz around your practice. We have a number of winter holiday coloring pages and activity sheets in our IDS Kids Club if you need some inspiration. 

Hiding an Elf on the Shelf throughout your office is sure to excite your patients – there is so much mischief an elf could get up to in a medical practice! The internet is full of ideas if you need some help deciding on the perfect hiding place.

Recognize and celebrate a variety of holidays to ensure inclusivity. Consider the diverse cultural and religious backgrounds of your staff and patients. Acknowledge major holidays beyond Christmas, such as Hanukkah, Diwali, Eid, or other culturally significant celebrations.

Use the holiday season as an opportunity to share relevant health tips with your patients. This could include advice on maintaining oral health during holiday feasts, managing stress, and staying active during the colder months.

Valentine’s Day Celebration Ideas

Make sure your dental patients show their teeth some love on Valentine’s Day. Hand out dental valentines with floss and a toothbrush attached to local schools as an office promo. Or give them to your patients and tell them to pass it along to someone they love to make sure they are caring for their teeth. Here’s a cute idea we grabbed from Pinterest:

Don’t forget about Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Back to School, Homecoming, and any local holidays.

There are so many ways to celebrate all year long. Plan themed events or activities to mark holidays. This could include a potluck lunch, a holiday-themed dress-up day, or a team-building activity. Ensure that participation is voluntary and that events are inclusive of different preferences and beliefs.

Enjoy the holidays and remember to take advantage of them to help promote your business!

How do you celebrate around your office?

Check out these related resources for creating a great experience for your patients:

5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Office Photo Op

Engage, Entertain, and Educate – The Three E’s of Creating Office Decor for Kids

Download our free marketing guide to learn great ways to get more patients in your office.

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office from a mundane to magical patient experience.

New call-to-action



  • envelope


4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

The Secret to Attracting Young Families to Your Shopping Center

6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed




Add a note to this photo: