Kids and the dentist are like oil and water: the two just don’t want to mix. At least, kids don’t seem to enjoy mixing much with dentists. But you can get your kids to enjoy going to get their teeth treated. You won’t have to bribe them, trick them or spend twenty minutes arguing with them. Doesn’t that sound great?

A Trip to the Dentist

Everyone has to go to the dentist, and truthfully most people dread it. Even adults don’t exactly run to the dental chair, so you can’t blame children for being afraid. The dental office can be pretty scary, after all. There are lots of metal tools and strange-looking implements, and something about being in a chair with your mouth hanging open feels vulnerable and frightening. After all, that’s really not a normal position to be in.

There are all kinds of different dental practices. Most adults go to general dentistry offices that treat patients of all ages and provide all the basics of dental care, such as standard teeth cleanings. There are also family dentists who specialize in treating both children and adults in all sorts of tooth issues, including early orthodontic help.

But if you want to make your children look at the dentist as something to enjoy rather than something to run screaming from, go to a kids dentist. These professionals cater specifically to children, and their offices are filled with bright colors and images that are designed to appeal especially to younger patients.

A Necessary Not-So-Evil

By the time they reach kindergarten, more than 40% of all children have cavities. From the ages five to 19, more than 18% of children suffer from untreated cavities. And statistics from the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools show that 51 million school hours are lost every single year because of dental-related illnesses.

This is why it’s essential for parents to make the dentist enjoyable for children. Start by introducing your children to the dental office as early as possible. As soon as they have teeth, they can (and should) start going. Talk to them about going to the dentist, but do it carefully. Avoid using negative or frightening words like “shot” and “pain.” Don’t talk to them about drillings, fillings or any other complicated dental procedure. The dental staff is much better equipped to discuss this with children, because they know the right words to use.

Explain to kids that the dentist wants to help them so they can have a beautiful smile and a healthy mouth. Good teeth allow them to eat apples, corn on the cob, pizza and all the stuff they really want to eat. When kids know that the dentist is there to help them and is on their side, they will resist a visit here much less.