The dentist office can be a scary place for a young kid. It’s full of unfamiliar tools, sounds, lighting, and people.

It can be tempting to avoid taking your child to the dentist to steer clear of temper tantrums and a lack of cooperation.

However, visiting the dentist regularly is essential to anyone’s long-term health, no matter their age.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of 7 tips that will help you make your child feel more comfortable at the dentist’s office.

7 Tips for Helping Your Child Feel Comfortable at the Dentist’s Office

1) Find a Pediatric Dentist

Some dentist offices will take on patients of all ages. Even if you’re happy with the dentist you currently go to, they may not be the right fit for your kid. Find a practice that offers pediatric dentistry, like this dentist in Woodbridge, that has experience with working with children.

These professionals complete two to three additional years of training after dental school. Their experience prepares them to quell the fears of young patients.

2) Schedule the First Visit Early On

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests you take your child to their first appointment by their first birthday or whenever teeth start appearing.

Getting your child in a dental office early on does two things:
It familiarizes them with the environment of a dental office.
It prevents problems like cavities from developing. Having good oral hygiene will help your child avoid painful treatments that could increase feelings of anxiety.

3) Conduct a Practice Visit

Ask your pediatric dentist if you and your child can come in for a practice visit the day before their real appointment. This way, your child can meet the staff and become familiar with the office environment. Then, your child can come back the next day knowing what to expect. This exposure acclimates children and reduces feelings of uneasiness.

4) Offer to Sit with Them

A lot of children benefit from physical contact with a parent during a dental visit. Offer to hold their hand or have them sit on your lap.

Some children may want to face the dentist on their own. Respect their wishes, as this is an intimidating experience for them.

5) Introduce Consistency

Once you find a reliable pediatric dentist, don’t switch offices unless you are involved in a long-distance move. This consistency will help your kid become increasingly more comfortable at every visit.

For even more consistency, try to schedule an appointment with the same hygienist every time. The same hygienist can facilitate a sense of trust and make appointments go more smoothly.

6) Utilize Distractions

Take advantage of a television mounted near the exam chair. Family-friendly dental offices usually have entertaining children’s programs that will distract from any dental procedures.

If possible, let your child use your headphones and smartphone to listen to a book or music.

While it may be tempting to facilitate a conversation to distract your child, the AAPD recommends keeping chatter on your end to a minimum. Allow the hygienist to explain everything they’re doing and develop a bond with your kid.

7) Don’t Relay Your Fears

While you may not be a big fan of the dentist, don’t make this known. Even mentioning it in your kid’s presence can cause them to become more fearful.

Distract from any horror stories told by siblings or friends. Don’t allow your child to be exposed to unearned negative comments about visiting a dentist office.
Taking your kid to the dentist is surely not the thing you (or they) look forward to every 6 months. However, following these 7 tips helps turn potentially frustrating dental appointments into productive sessions geared towards promoting your child’s oral health.