Taking your child to the dentist can be stressful for both you and your kids. It doesn’t have to be, though! There are lots of things you can do to make dental visits more comfortable and even fun. In this post, we’re sharing tips tailored to different age groups to help your child feel good about the dentist.

To schedule an appointment for your child in our Littleton, CO office, call Sprout and Bloom at 720-637-1760 today. In the meantime, check out our tips. 

Infants and Toddlers

Like other pediatric dentists, we specialize in working with babies and young children. So we have much more experience than other dentists in working with this age group. Our office is a child-friendly environment with bright colors, miniature furniture, and TVs in our care room. Our patients especially love our cool light wall and prize wall. Go ahead and bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket with you. During their appointment:

  • Hold and comfort your baby on your lap.
  • Sing songs and read books to help them stay relaxed and distracted.
  • Praise and reward them afterward to reinforce their positive impression of their visit.  

Preschoolers

It’s a good idea to read books and watch videos about going to the dentist, so your preschooler knows what to expect. Role play dentist appointments by counting their teeth with your fingers and pretending to clean them. On the day of their visit, let them take a favorite toy or book into the exam room. 

If your child is nervous, we can start by counting their teeth before cleaning them. Our staff is great at getting kids comfortable! You can help with positive reinforcement:

  • Praise them afterward and reward them with a special treat. 
  • Make a sticker chart to motivate them to cooperate during future visits.  

Young Children

Most important, maintain open communication and provide both comfort and incentives to minimize anxiety and ensure a positive experience. We suggest involving your young child in health discussions. Explain what the dentist will do at their visit and why good oral care is important. Answer any questions honestly, so they feel informed and in control. On the day of:

  • Encourage your child to voice any fears or concerns to you or Dr. Alli. 
  • Provide distractions like apps, movies or music during procedures. 
  • Do a fun outing afterward to let your child pick a reward, maybe ice cream or a trip to the toy store

Pre-Teens  

Prior to the visit, ask your pre-teen what concerns they have and discuss solutions together. Make sure they know what will happen during the appointment, so there are no surprises. See if they want to listen to music or watch TV/movies during procedures. 

Allow them some independence by stepping out of the room for part of the exam if it helps them feel mature and less nervous. But assure your child you’ll be right outside if they need you. After a successful visit, celebrate with activities or privileges that appeal to their age – maybe a sleepover or trip to the movies with friends.  

Teens

Emphasize to teens that good dental care now prevents expensive, painful issues down the road. Allow them independence in making appointments and remembering to go, but offer reminders if needed. If your teen struggles with high anxiety, they can receive safe and gentle laughing gas. (This is true for patients of other ages too.) Reassure them you’ll only step in during appointments if absolutely necessary. Reward cooperation with a later weekend curfew, cash for movies with friends, or permission to get behind the wheel more often to practice driving. 

Preparation, communication, distraction, comfort, and incentive/reward are the keys to help your child feel good about the dentist. Tailoring strategies to your child’s age and needs can help reduce anxiety now and into adulthood. With patience and creativity, you can nurture a lifetime of good oral health habits.

To visit Sprout and Bloom Pediatric Dentistry, call us today at 720-637-1760 to schedule an appointment or schedule one online.