Getting Kids to Enjoy Trips to the Dentist

Getting Kids to Enjoy Trips to the Dentist

Children often feel anxiety when doing something new, including visiting the dentist. Even if they’ve been before, perhaps they’re nervous about what will happen the next time they go.

Kids aren’t the only ones who tend to be apprehensive about visiting the dentist. Read on to learn strategies to make children feel comfortable and even look forward to their next dental visit.

You might even learn a few things about preparing yourself and getting dental insurance that can alleviate your own anxieties about visiting the dentist.

Getting Kids to Enjoy Trips to the Dentist

You Don’t Have to Be Afraid of the Dentist

One of the most common fears for adults is visiting the dentist. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to find a person who enjoys trips to the dentist. If you want your kids to have any chance of enjoying the dentist, you’re going to have to make a conscious shift in attitude yourself and lead by example.

Consider Switching Dentists

If you’ve ever sat in a dentist's chair with your mouth open as wide as possible and had the hygienist or dentists reprimand you to open your mouth wider repeatedly, it’s not hard to understand why you would dread going back. Or, if the novocaine doesn’t work, even though they gave you five shots, no one can blame you for being fearful of your next visit.

Not all dentists are horrible, though, and maybe you just haven't found a good fit yet. If you find a friend who loves their dentist, find out if you can switch. Sometimes changing your attitude about the dentist is as simple as finding a better dentist.

Practice Meditation During Dental Cleanings

If you pay attention to your body, you might notice that as your cleaning progresses, your body tenses up. If you find this happening to you, practice deep breathing and letting go of the tension. You’ll probably have to take these steps several times, but releasing the stress will help you leave the office with a little more energy and not quite so drained.

Take Care of Your Teeth Between Cleanings

Sometimes, even when you do everything you should, you still end up with a cavity, but those cavities usually result from improper care.

To keep your mouth in the best shape possible, follow your dentist’s advice for cleaning, flossing, and diet. You’ll enjoy seeing the dentist more when they say, “Your teeth look great! Keep doing what you’re doing,” than when they say, “Let’s schedule out your root canal and fillings.”

When you can conquer your fear of the dentist, you’ll be much better equipped to help your child enjoy visiting the dentist.

Prepare Your Child for the Dentist

Speak positively about the dentist. Instead of using the dentist as a bad guy ready to be upset if your child forgets to brush their teeth, talk about how many teeth you think the dentist will find or what flavor of the toothpaste you might get to choose.

If your child has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or a disability, you may need to tailor your preparation for their specific needs.

Read a Book About Trips to the Dentist

Read about going to the dentist to kids

Many of the most popular children’s book series has a book or two about visiting the dentist. Your child loves their books because they relate to the characters. So, it can be a big encouragement to read about their favorite characters having a good experience getting their teeth cleaned and examined.

Watch a Show About Getting Your Teeth Cleaned

Just as there are many books about visiting the dentist, there are also many shows about it. Watching a couple of your kids’ favorite shows where the characters get their teeth cleaned can help your child understand what will happen at the dentist.

Often, fear of the unknown makes kids apprehensive. But, if they know what to expect, they won’t have so much worry about what will happen when they get there.

Let Your Child Watch Your Cleaning

As was just mentioned, knowing what happens at a cleaning can help ease a lot of fear. So, consider asking your dental provider if your child can sit in on your cleaning before coming in for theirs. When they can ask questions and see the tools, they’ll feel more comfortable when it’s their turn.

Consider a Pediatric Dentist

While a dentist that provides services to people of all ages might be a perfect fit for your child, sometimes a pediatric dentist's office is best. Their waiting rooms tend to have fun toys and activities, and the staff is used to working with kids.

Pediatric practices tend to be more mindful of children’s worries and curiosity and often do an excellent job of reading a child’s fears and helping that child overcome them.

Eliminate Financial Stress With Dental Insurance

Taking care of your teeth is part of taking care of your health and well-being, but sometimes, it’s expensive. A cleaning and x-rays alone could cost $200 or more per person. If you have a partner and a couple of kids, you’re looking at $800. Dental insurance can help you pay for your visits and dental work.

If your employer’s health plan includes dental insurance, you should take advantage of it. Even though you’ll have to pay premiums for the insurance, you'll save money if you take advantage of regular cleanings. In other words, you’ll pay less in premiums than you would have for cleanings.

Additional dental coverage beyond cleanings makes the insurance premiums even more worth it.

Types of Dental Insurance Plans

Some dental insurance plans work similarly to health insurance, where you pay a deductible, and then the plan covers a percentage of the costs after you reach your deductible. One thing to watch out for is that almost all plans have a maximum that they will cover. So if you need $10,000 worth of dental work, they may only pay up to their max of $3,000.

Some dental insurance companies offer discount plans. They’ll get you a discounted price at preferred providers, but the plan itself doesn’t pay for your dental bills.

Kids’ Dental Insurance

If your child qualifies for your state’s Medicaid program for kids, you can breathe a sigh of relief because most dental work will be covered.

Knowing your family’s dental needs won’t stress your budget will help you put on a happy face and help your kids enjoy going to the dentist. To make the experience as fun as possible, help prep your kids for their cleanings by using some of the tips above. Going to the dentist can be a great experience, and it’s easier to keep that positive attitude when you start as a child.

Melanie MussonMelanie Musson writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, She’s passionate about family wellness and access to the insurance they need.


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