Tooth decay is one of the leading issues that children experience because of lifestyle, dietary and socioeconomic conditions. When cavities are left untreated, it will lead to several long-term problems, including socially, academically and financially. About 20 percent of adolescents, 13 percent of teens and 25 percent of low-income children have preventable cavities, which consistent dental checkups and oral care help to deter. Here are seven tips to get kids to visit the dentist at ease from the dental experts at

Utilize Books And Videos

One of the best ways to make children feel comfortable with new situations is by teaching them about the process. Thankfully, there are numerous resources dedicated to this subject, including books and videos, which are available both in print and online. For anyone, regardless of age, entering into situations without direct knowledge is a scary experience, so people try to avoid them as much as possible. Then, when they are forced to go, the office, people, and equipment can be very intimidating as well. When children read books or watch videos about what to expect, they don’t have the same fear because the surroundings don’t seem foreign to them. Here are a few great examples.



Role Play At Home

A simple way to teach kids about what to expect and to overcome fears is to let them be both the patient and the dentist. It also familiarizes them with the role of the dentist as well as the equipment and tools children will expect to see during an office visit. It will also be a fun exercise as you can set up a pretend dental office to examine teeth, take X-paper rays, cleaning or play games such as learning about the mouth or counting their teeth. By imitating the dental care process, your child will not be afraid to visit an office.

Start Dental Care Early

The earlier you begin dental treatments, the more routine the process will be for children. Most dentists recommend that parents start dental care as soon as the first tooth is visible as it will set a dental care routine that promotes prevention and proper care during a time in which children are most susceptible to learning. Younger children also will learn the importance of proper at-home dental care while also seeing the role of the dentists and staff as valuable assets that help your children achieve a beautiful, clean smile. Most importantly, smaller children learn dental care is a part of childhood behaviors.

Use Positive Reinforcement But Avoid Bribery

Dentists at like to use positive reinforcements as rewards for good hygiene habits because children often don’t understand the value of clean teeth or vibrant smiles. They do understand positive reinforcements for being great patients, such as being rewarded with stickers or a visit to a dentist’s treasure chest.  Parents can also reinforce a reward system for brushing daily, not having cavities or following the dentist’s directions while at an appointment. It makes visits fun, and kids come to expect positive experiences. At the same time, you want to avoid bribery because then children will think that parents are giving treats or toys because the dentist and dental care are things they should fear.

Avoid Negative Language

Some parents may unintentionally pass on negative behaviors or ideas based on the language they use, so you should avoid using language that builds anxiety. Most notably, words like pain or shots will distress a child before and during an appointment. Instead, talk to your children about how the dentist wants to see how clean and beautiful their smiles are or how well they are brushing their teeth. You also should not over complicate the visit when teaching your children because too much information is confusing. Keep your language unassuming and let the dentist set the expectations about procedures.

Promote Dental Care at Home

Taking children to the dentist is absolutely an essential part of dental care, but parents are just as vital as they are the first line of defense for cavity prevention. Parents who teach their children about brushing technique, flossing and cavity prevention will instill a long-term practice that affects everything from food choices to toothbrush usage, which will promote oral health and hygiene. Parents are also vital to dental practices as they prepare children for appointments, follow after-care instructions and build good habits.

  • Talk to your child about regular brushing
  • Use toothpaste that has fluoride and tell children why it’s important
  • Teach your children how and why to floss every day
  • Remind children about seeing the dentist for checkups
  • Remind kids to eat and drink healthily rather than sugary products

Bring a Comfort Item to an Appointment

Great dentists show empathy for patients, and they understand why patients prefer to bring items of comfort to appointments to calm their fears or anxieties. If your child has a favorite toy, blanket or stuffed animal, talk to your dentist about bringing it to each appointment. You also will find that the dentist has a few tricks that are soothing during each checkup. Dentists also use cartoons, coloring books or comedy to ease kids’ fear.

Children who understand the importance of maintaining their teeth learn long-term oral care techniques that not only prevent cavities but can also reduce the likelihood of developing severe dental issues. This type of routine also reduces dental care costs, surgery or orthodontic procedures. The more parents are involved with teaching children about dental care and making them feel comfortable with checkups, the likelier they will grow into adults who continue the upkeep.