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What Are Common Dental Procedures for Children, and How Can I Prepare My Child for Them?

Dental Procedure being done on child

As parents, we want to give our children the best possible start regarding their oral health. Taking them for regular dental check-ups is a great way of doing this – but let's face it; kids can find visiting the dentist daunting. So, to make sure they feel more secure and relaxed, here are some tips on preparing your child for some of the most common dental procedures before undergoing them.

1. Preparing for Their First Dental Exam

An annual dental exam is one of the most common pediatric dental procedures for your child's teeth.

Getting your child an annual dental exam is essential to ensure a healthy smile and oral health. During the visit, your dentist will evaluate their children's teeth, gums, and mouth looking for any early warning signs of tooth decay. They'll also use this opportunity to provide orthodontic advice if needed - helping them maintain optimal oral health now and in the future!

To help your child feel more relaxed during the visit, ensure they understand what will happen. For example, explain calmly and kindly that a professional will look at their baby teeth, and gums - which won't hurt! Bringing along a favorite toy or book can also provide comfort for extra reassurance.

Regular dental exams are a great way to jumpstart your child's relationship with their dentist. Not only do they allow the dentist to detect or prevent any serious issues, but it also creates a positive experience for kids when going through future treatments and procedures!

Happy Child getting Dental Xrays with orange glasses on

2. Preparing for a Teeth Cleaning

Teeth cleaning baby teeth is a dental procedure that involves removing plaque and tartar from the child's teeth. It's essential because it helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
The dental assistant or hygienist will use special tools to clean the teeth, which may cause discomfort, but it should not be painful.

Here are a few ways to prepare children for a teeth cleaning:

  1. Explain what is going to happen.
    • Before your child's first detailed teeth cleaning:
      • Try explaining the process in detail to your child.
      • Help them understand what will happen during the visit, who the dentist is, and why dental care is essential.
      • Answer any questions, and ensure they feel comfortable and safe in the dentist's office.
  2. Use Positive Language and Make it Fun
    • Before your child's first dental cleaning at their pediatric dentist, explain the process in detail to them. Help them understand what will happen during the dental visit, who the dentist is, and why dental cleanings are so important! Answer any questions to help make them feel comfortable and safe in the dentist's office.
  3. Practice Relaxation Techniques
    • Many children feel anxious and fearful when visiting the dentist’s office. Therefore, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, visualization, or progressive muscle relaxation can help to ease the tension. Simple techniques, like taking a few deep breaths together, can also be helpful in calming your child down during the cleaning.

A pediatric dentist understands that kids require a particular approach to ensure their dental care is fun and anxiety-free. They use flavors explicitly tailored for younger patients, making the experience more enjoyable from start to finish. Exuding confidence about your child's dentist will also help them feel comfortable during future visits!

3. Preparing for Dental Fillings

Child getting dental fillings

If your child has tooth decay or cavities, your pediatric dentist will recommend a filling to prevent cavities further and prevent future tooth decay. First, the dentist will numb the tooth's surface area with a small injection and use specialized tools to remove the decayed tooth structure. The dentist will then fill the cavity with a composite material that will mimic the permanent tooth's natural color.

Here are a few ways to prepare your child for this procedure:

  1. Talk to Your Child
    • As a parent, it is crucial to communicate with your child, so they know what to expect before undergoing a dental filling. Explain the procedure calmly and reassuringly. Start by telling your child that the dentist will numb their mouth and clean the cavity before filling it with a special composite resin material. Let your child know they may feel some pressure but will not experience any pain during the procedure. Don't forget to explain that removing tooth decay helps them have a healthy permanent tooth in the future!
  2. Choose the Right Time of Day
    • Schedule your child's appointment when they are well-rested and well-fed. This will ensure they are more comfortable and less irritable during the procedure. Try not to schedule the appointment when you or your child are feeling stressed or anxious about other matters.
  3. Plan a Reward
    • Plan a reward for your child after the dental filling is completed. This will give them something to look forward to and help them stay positive throughout the procedure. A small, inexpensive reward such as a sticker, toy, or special treat will suffice.

To prepare your child, explain that the dentist will fix their tooth to make it healthy and strong again. You may also remind them that the dentist will numb the tooth so they will not feel any pain.

4. Preparing for an Extraction

The dentist may recommend a tooth extraction if the baby tooth or permanent tooth is beyond repair. Tooth extractions are common; the dentist will numb the area before removing the tooth. If the tooth is difficult to remove, the dentist may use sedation. See what parents should know about sedating.

To prepare your child for wisdom teeth removal, explain that the dentist may need to remove the wisdom tooth just to keep back teeth and permanent teeth in their mouth healthy. In addition, inform them that they will not feel any pain during the procedure.

Here are a few tips to help your child prepare for tooth extractions:

  1. Practice Relaxation Techniques
    • Dental anxiety can be a common occurrence for children and parents regarding dental extractions. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, and mindfulness can help your child feel more relaxed and calm.
    • You can practice these techniques together as a family or find videos or resources online.
  2. Bring Comforting Items
    • Bring your child's favorite comforting item, such as a blanket, stuffed animal, or toy. These items can provide comfort and familiarity to help your child feel at ease during the procedure.
      Additionally, you can pack snacks or drinks if your child gets hungry or thirsty before or after the appointment.
  3. Follow Post-Op Care Instructions
    • Lastly, it’s important to follow the post-op care instructions provided by your child’s dentist. These instructions can help minimize the risk of infection or other complications with future permanent teeth. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully and encourage your child to rest and avoid any physical activities that may cause pain or strain.

5. Preparing for Orthodontic Treatment

Child with braces

If the dentist notices any orthodontic concerns with baby teeth or primary teeth, such as crowding, crooked teeth, or misaligned permanent teeth, they may recommend orthodontic treatment. Treatment for orthodontic correction of permanent teeth may involve braces or clear aligners, which help straighten teeth and improve malocclusion.

Here are a few tips to help prepare your child for orthodontic treatment:

  1. Get your Child Familiar with the Healing Process
    • Before the initial consultation, talk to your child about braces or Invisalign. Explain that they may need to visit the orthodontist regularly and that the treatment may last just a few minutes. You can even take them to tour the orthodontist's office so they know what to expect when they arrive.
  2. Choose the Right Orthodontist
    • Finding a good orthodontist who can make your child feel comfortable and confident throughout the treatment is crucial. Research your options and read reviews from other patients to find a highly-rated and reputable orthodontist that can deliver excellent results.
  3. Follow a Good Oral Hygiene Routine
    • Before and during orthodontic treatment, your child's oral health is crucial to maintain a good routine. Please encourage your child to brush and floss regularly and teach them to clean their braces or Invisalign trays properly. This can help to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems that may negatively impact your child's mouth.
  4. Monitor Your Child’s Diet
    • Your child's teeth may need to avoid sticky, hard, or crunchy foods during orthodontic treatment. This can include things like gum, popcorn, and hard candy. Instead, encourage your child's teeth to eat a nutritious diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  5. Provide Emotional Support
    • Finally, providing emotional support for your child throughout the orthodontic treatment process is essential. Reassure them that the treatment will be worth it, and remind them they're doing a great job caring for their teeth. Celebrate milestones like getting braces off, and reward your child for caring for their teeth and braces throughout the treatment.


Dental procedures can be nerve-wracking for children, especially if they are not used to pediatric dental procedures. As parents, it is essential to prepare your child well beforehand at the dental office and make them feel comfortable during the visit.

Explain the procedures to them, and reassure them that they are not painful. Bring their favorite toy or book to make them more comfortable while waiting. By doing so, you can help your child have a positive experience and ensure that they maintain healthy oral hygiene habits throughout their lives.

Finding the right dentist is a great way to set the tone for your child. Contact us today to get started.