Toddler brushing his teethAlthough it can often be a challenge to get your child into the dental chair, it's necessary to do so as ignoring oral health problems can lead to long-term health issues and costly treatment.

To help you tackle this important step in providing good oral health for your child, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) offers these 10 strategies to take the scare out of the dental chair.

1. Start now

The AAPD recommends that every child establish a dental home and visit a dentist by his first birthday. The earlier the visit, the better the chances of preventing dental problems, which can be the source of fear for visits to come.

2. Test the waters

Parents with toddlers who have not yet seen a dentist, should consider a “get acquainted” visit to introduce the child to the dental office before the first appointment.

3. Choose words wisely

Be careful about using scary words. Check-ups and 90 percent of first visits do not have anything to do with “hurt,” so do not even use the word!

4. Time it out

Select an appointment time when your child is alert and rested.

5. Be confident

Children often perceive a parent’s anxiety. They also tolerate procedures best when their parents understand what to expect and prepare them for the experience. As parents become more confident, so will the child.

6. Make "pediatric" a priority

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry, with two to three years of specialized training in treating children beyond dental school. Plus, because they see only children, their office environment is set up for children.

7. Manage expectations

Before the visit, explain that the dentist is a friend and will help your child keep her teeth healthy. Reinforce that the visit will be fun.

8. Share a story

Read your child a story about a character that had a good dental visit. (Ask the dental office for suggested reading.)

9. List out questions

Make a list of your questions about your child’s oral health in advance. This could include such topics as home care, injury prevention, diet and snacking, fluoride, and tooth development.

10. Offer control

Give your child some control over the dental visit. Such choices as “Will you hold your bear or should I?” or “Which color toothbrush do you like?” will make the visit more enjoyable.

Information was supplied by Yasmi O. Crystal. DMD, FAAPD,  a national spokesperson of the AAPD.

Is your child afraid of going to the dentist? How are you helping your child get over this fear? Please share your tips in Comments!