Guidelines for Parents during Pediatric Dental Visits

Guidelines for Parents during Pediatric Dental Visits

Going to the dentist is an experience that children perceive differently. We recognize that each child is unique, and we are willing to adjust for individual needs; however, we ask that parents respect any requests the staff make about the presence of parents. Here are some things to keep in mind to help your child have a successful visit.

Creating a child-friendly dental experience

A new environment, scary tools, and the words “shot,” “drill,” and “pain” can make the dentist’s office seem like a scary place. We ask parents to avoid using scary words like these to help avoid unnecessary dental anxiety. To help your child feel more comfortable, we use the “tell, show, do” policy.

  • Tell – explain verbally what we are about to do.
    • “We are going to brush the teeth with a spinning toothbrush”
  • Show – demonstrate where the child can see and feel the equipment (if applicable).
    • Let the child see and feel the brush on their finger.
  • Do – perform the procedure.

Age of your child

Research shows that children over the age of 3 often respond better to dental treatment without their parents present. This is because it creates a less distracting environment, and the child is not constantly looking at the parent.

  • If this is their first visit or they are especially nervous, it might be beneficial to have the parent present. However, allowing the child to go on their own allows them to build a relationship with the dentist and helps them to be more confident.

Parent behavior

  • If you do go in with your child, we ask that you act as a silent observer unless prompted. This gives the child the opportunity to create trust with the dentist and limits distractions.
  • Try to express positive behavior and emotions. Your child will reflect the behavior they see, and so if you are nervous or angry, they can develop a negative association with going to the dentist.

How to manage your own dental anxiety for your child’s visit

  • Meet the providers. If you trust them, so will your child.
  • Prepare yourself beforehand. Try some deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, or something else that relaxes you. You want to be in the best possible mental space for your child.
  • If necessary, have another caregiver bring your child to the dentist.