Children's Hospital Colorado

Preparing for a Dental Visit

A bright blue background with the "balloon boy" off center to the right. The balloon boy is a blue character who appears to be soaring by holding red, orange and yellow balloons above his head.

A picture of a child in a dentist's chair Kids are special to us and we want them to know it. One of our goals in the dental center is to make children happy and less fearful while receiving dental care, so we take extra steps to make them comfortable before and during their visit. The following tips and information can help you prepare your child for their visit.

Before your visit:

  • Children are curious and will want to know what will happen when they arrive at the dental clinic. Remember to be honest with your child, and in a relaxed and calm manner explain their dentistry needs. If you are not sure what will happen at your child’s next appointment, tell your child that the dentist will fix his/her teeth, and that the dentist will explain everything when you get to the clinic.
  • It may be helpful to explain that the dentist likes children and tries to give you a bright, healthy smile and keep you from having any toothaches. Avoid using scary words such as “needle,” “pain” and “hurt.”

During your visit:

  • We provide family-centered care, placing your child and family at the center of all care decisions. Depending on several circumstances, including patient age, parents may be encouraged to come into the dental exam room with their child. Older children generally do much better without their parent in the room; however, we recognize that there are exceptions to this, so please ask if you have any questions or concerns. We typically recommend that siblings wait in the reception area to minimize distractions during treatment. This allows the dentist and assistants to focus solely on the patient.
  • Your child’s dentist will attempt to build a rapport with him/her before administering care. Our dentists routinely use age-appropriate techniques, such as “Tell-Show-Do," which help to demonstrate how the dentist will take care of their teeth.
  • With parental consent, sedation techniques are available for extremely apprehensive children.

Common dental procedures

Dental examinations

During dental examinations, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth, jaws and face. Usually a child’s teeth are cleaned with a rubber cup or a toothbrush and fluoride is administered. Sometimes X-rays are taken to assess the roots and jawbone structures and seek out hidden caries (cavities).

Dental restorations

During dental restorations, teeth may be filled with white or silver fillings. Teeth can also be capped with stainless steel crowns or removed if the decay is extensive or the tooth is abscessed. Often, we administered nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, to help the child remain calm. We also may administer local anesthesia that numbs the teeth. We slowly apply a numbing agent before the injection so that any discomfort is minimized. Sedation and medical immobilization are available for extremely apprehensive children. Other times and circumstances may require general anesthesia, wherein the child is totally asleep and does not feel anything. Ask the dentist which is best for your child.

Special accommodations for children

A woman wearing a white lab coat looks inside a girl's mouth.

Our specialists are well-versed in the techniques that can make your child feel less afraid and feel less pain. There are several behavior guidance methods used by pediatric dentists that may be used to help your child cope with a dental appointment. All techniques used at Children's Hospital Colorado are approved by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Occasionally, more advanced behavioral guidance methods are needed. These techniques may include general anesthesia and medical immobilization (papoose board). Advanced behavioral guidance techniques are not used unless absolutely necessary, and only after obtaining permission from the parent. Some techniques are very basic. For instance, a technique that we use almost all of the time is called "Tell-Show-Do." We tell the child what we are going to do, do a quick demonstration, and then perform the procedure while repeating the tell-show-do. In other words, we explain and show everything to the child in advance so that they will not have anything to fear. Other basic behavioral guidance methods include voice control and administering nitrous oxide to help the child remain calm. Learn more about behavioral guidance methods from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Children's Colorado emphasizes the importance of providing family-centered care, placing your child and family at the center of all care decisions. If you are unclear of why a specific technique is being used with your child, you are always encouraged to ask the dentist about it.

Contact us

The Dental Center is located in our Health Pavilion, at 860 North Potomac Circle in Aurora. We are open Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Appointments: 720-777-6788
• Residency phone number: 720-777-4044