It is a known fact most kids hate the idea of goingat-the-dentist-office to the dentist. Between the frightening tools next to the uncomfortable chair and the inability to talk for the entire time, it is typically not their idea of a good time. In fact, it’s not really anyone’s idea of a good time, but as adults, we learn it is an essential part of our health. Plus, we want our white shining teeth to stay in our mouths for as long as possible. And, obviously, we want our kids’ teeth to do the same.

To take the fear and dread of the dentist out of your child’s mind, there are a few strategies to helping he or she to realize the regular trip to the dentist really isn’t all that horrific of an experience, especially for their first trip to the dentist.

Get Excited

Instead of planting the seed of dread in your child’s mind about going to the dentist, do the opposite: Get excited about your own dentist appointments, and chances are, it may rub off on your kid. It is a good idea to leave out any details of personal past unpleasant experiences with the dentist. The kids’ reaction to dentist visits is usually an outcome of conditioning and how they were taught to view the experience.

Reading books about going to the dentist beforehand can help kids understand what is going to happen and to lighten up any present fear. Try books like Timothy Tiger’s Terrible Toothache or Show Me Your Smile. Just make sure you think about your kid’s anxiety level. Some need plenty of time to prepare mentally, but if you know he or she is going to absolutely freak out when you tell them about the visit, give them less notification time.

At the Office

First off, it is not always the best idea to assume your dentist is the best place for a child. Make sure it is kid-friendly with lots of toys in the waiting room. If not, ask a friend with kids or find pediatric dentists online.

Give your child some power in the dentist’s chair. Let your little boy or girl bring a favorite stuffed animal to hold while in the chair and let them pick out the sticker and toothbrushes, and any other prizes offered at the end of the appointment. Sometimes dentists offer finger puppets, crayons and key chains. Any kind of prize will help your child feel like the dentist office is a fun place to be. On the other hand, avoid using incentives like promising a big award afterwards, because it will just make he or she think the dentists’ office is supposed to be a boring, or even scary place.

Additionally, The Academy of General Dentistry recommends parents talk with dentists privately before bringing the girl or boy into the picture, just to give the dentist some background information on the child. It is also important to tell dentists about a child’s issues related to fear and stubbornness, even in other parts of life.

Caroline Young is a full-time news reporter in Atlanta, a part-time freelance journalist and a yoga instructor. As a health enthusiast, she writes about health topics often in an effort to help others live the best lives they can. She’s a regular contributor to, a dental health resource site.