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My Child Has Sensory Issues: How to Feel Safe at the Dentist

Having a child that has sensory difficulties can make normal tasks overwhelming for the parents and children alike. Dental visits can be extremely triggering with such a visually and auditorily burdening environment. However, most dental offices are well-prepared to cater to children with all types of needs and requirements, so fret not! There are also ways that you as the parent can help prepare your child for their next dentist appointment. Continue reading to learn about ideas and strategies for children who have sensory concerns.

Before the Appointment

One important distinction to make is whether your child is sensory-seeking or sensory-avoidant. Children who are sensory-seeking actively seek out different types of stimuli. These children may thrive in situations in which there is loud music, lots of physical contact, and other sensory input. These are also the children that will do well at dentist appointments. In contrast, children who are sensory-avoidant tend to avoid those types of input, or shut down in such environments. Therefore, a dental visit can truly be difficult for them at no fault of their own.


There are several ways that you can prepare your child for their dental visits that may make their experience in the office easier and more relaxing. First, you can ask to take a tour of your child’s dental office prior to your appointment. This way, you and your child can become familiar with the environment, and you can express your desires and child’s needs during their visit. At home, you can try using an electric toothbrush with your child to get them used to the feel of the vibrations when brushing their teeth. Lastly, try incorporating children’s’ books about dentists and the importance of good oral health and practices, associating their appointment with happiness and joy.


During the Appointment

During your child’s appointment, you can help ease your child’s mind by providing certain distractions. To shield your child from the bright lights in the office space, try bringing sunglasses that they can wear during the exam. Ask the dental staff if your child can wear the x-ray vest to provide calming deep pressure during their exam. Be sure to bring a phone or tablet for your child to be visually distracted with a movie or TV show. Lastly, but perhaps, most importantly, be sure to prepare the dental staff to not make sudden or swift movements when treating your child. All of these steps can make their oral health exams and procedures better and less stressful.


Even after the appointment, there are steps you can take to ease your child’s fears about going to the dentist. The more that you can promote healthy oral habits at home, the less the dentist becomes a scary and overwhelming place. If your child is sensitive to certain flavors of toothpaste, try using a flavorless toothpaste or even brushing their teeth with water. You can also incorporate role-playing to recreate the dental visit so the actual visit becomes less unknown. Ultimately, exposure and knowledge about the dentist and what to expect is key to a successful dental trip for all parties involved.


Whether your child is sensitive to lights, sounds, or is unaware of what to expect at the dentist, finding a great pediatric dentist can truly make their experience a great one! If you are looking for a great pediatric dentist in Lafayette, look no further than Maestri Family Dental. Their supportive and accommodating staff are ready to serve you and your family with care and attention to your child’s specific needs. 

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