Going to the dentist isn’t necessarily anyone’s idea of a fun time, but it’s crucial in order to keep your teeth healthy and strong. Young children are impressionable. So, you’ll want to ensure that they’re time spent at the dentist is not unpleasant. Here are four ways to help young children enjoy the dentist.

Be Upfront with Them

Your children don’t know what going to the dentist will entail if they’ve never gone before. While you can’t lie to them and present it as something it’s not, you also shouldn’t fill their heads with any notions of fear. Tell them about what will happen, from sitting in the waiting room to going into the office and getting on the chair to having their teeth inspected. Tell them why you are going and emphasize the importance of healthy teeth. This positive reinforcement will be a great way to motivate your children to enjoy the dentist.

Go to a Pediatric Dentist

A large part of your child’s enjoyment of the dentist will stem from the hospitality of the dentist. Just like how pediatric doctors are trained to make children feel as comfortable as possible, so are pediatric dentists such as Dentistry for Children & Adolescents. These dentists will be able to comfort your child and assuage any fears they might have. Instead of viewing the dentist as someone to fear, your child will view them as someone to appreciate.

If there are no pediatric dentists close to where you live, it may be worth it to drive a little farther to help your children cope. The hassle of trying to help your toddler habituate themselves to a dentist who isn’t used to dealing with children may be far more costly than the gas for the trip.

Encourage Them

Young children can feel overwhelmed and frightened by new experiences. As a parent, you can make them feel much more comfortable by boosting their self-esteem. After an appointment, you should commend them on how well they did and how brave they were for trying something new. This encouragement is likely to make them feel much more relaxed on subsequent visits to the dentist.

One of the most encouraging things you can do for your children to help them prepare for the dentist is to take them on a tour of the office they’ll be visiting. Spending some time at the dentist’s office before they have to go be worked on can help them come to view it as a fun and comfortable place to go. Meeting some of the staff would also be very comforting, as that would help them not to feel like they are being left with strangers.

Prepare Together

In the days before a dentist appointment, talk to your children about it as much as possible. Remind them when it’s time to brush their teeth and have them do the same for you. You can even try doing a practice run where they lie down on the couch or in a chair (pretending it’s a dentist’s chair) and you “inspect” their teeth. When it’s time for the actual appointment, they’ll already have been primed for it.

By helping your child to enjoy the dentist, you’re setting them up for long-term success where they don’t fear the unknown. These tips are a great way to get your child to embrace going to the dentist.