Top Tips for Preparing Your Child with Special Needs for a Dental Visit

Top Tips for Preparing Your Child with Special Needs for a Dental Visit

Posted by Chaffee Pediatric Dentistry on Jun 13 2024, 05:57 AM

Visiting the dentist can be a daunting experience for any child, but it can be particularly challenging for children with special needs. At Chaffee Pediatric Dentistry in Mesa, AZ, led by Dr. Lafe Chaffee, we understand the unique challenges faced by these children and are committed to providing a supportive and accommodating environment. Preparing your child for a dental visit can help ease their anxiety and ensure a smoother experience. Here are our top tips for preparing your child with special needs for a dental visit, with a focus on special needs dentistry in Mesa, AZ.

1. Choose the Right Dentist

Selecting a dentist who is experienced in special needs dentistry is crucial. Dr. Lafe Chaffee and the team at Chaffee Pediatric Dentistry have extensive experience and training in treating children with special needs. Their understanding and compassionate approach can make a significant difference in your child's dental experience.

2. Schedule a Pre-Visit Tour

Before the actual dental appointment, schedule a pre-visit tour of the dental office. This allows your child to familiarize themselves with the environment, meet the dental team, and see the equipment in a non-threatening way. A pre-visit can help reduce anxiety by making the surroundings more familiar on the day of the appointment.

3. Create a Social Story

A social story is a narrative that helps children understand and prepare for social situations. Create a simple story that explains what will happen during the dental visit. Include pictures of the dental office, the dentist, and the dental chair. Read the story to your child several times before the appointment to help them understand and anticipate what will happen.

4. Use Visual Aids

Visual aids can be very effective for children with special needs. Use pictures or videos to show what happens during a dental visit. Many dental offices, including Chaffee Pediatric Dentistry, have resources available to help explain the process. Visual aids can help your child visualize and understand the steps involved in a dental visit.

5. Practice at Home

Role-playing the dental visit at home can be very helpful. Use a toothbrush and mirror to simulate a dental check-up. This can help your child become familiar with the sensations and actions involved in a dental visit. Practice sitting in a chair, opening their mouth, and holding still. The more familiar these actions become, the more comfortable your child will be during the actual appointment. Call us now to learn more.

6. Communicate with the Dental Team

Communication with the dental team is essential. Share any specific needs, preferences, or strategies that have worked for your child in the past. Dr. Lafe Chaffee and his team are always willing to listen and accommodate your child’s individual needs. Providing this information can help the dental team tailor their approach to make your child's experience as positive as possible.

7. Plan the Appointment Timing

Choose a time of day when your child is usually calm and cooperative. For many children, this might be early in the morning or after a nap. Avoid scheduling the appointment during times when your child is likely to be tired, hungry, or overstimulated. A well-timed appointment can help your child be more relaxed and cooperative.

8. Bring Comfort Items

Allow your child to bring a favorite toy, blanket, or other comfort item to the appointment. Having something familiar and comforting can help reduce anxiety and make them feel more secure. Some dental offices also have items like weighted blankets or noise-canceling headphones available to help soothe children during their visit.

9. Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool in preparing your child for a dental visit. Praise your child for their cooperation and bravery, both before and after the appointment. Consider offering a small reward, such as a favorite treat or a fun activity, to reinforce the positive experience.

10. Stay Calm and Positive

Children often pick up on their parents' emotions. Stay calm and positive about the dental visit, even if you feel anxious. Your confidence can help reassure your child and make them feel more secure. If you appear relaxed and happy about the visit, your child is more likely to feel the same way.


Preparing your child with special needs for a dental visit can make a significant difference in their comfort and cooperation. At Chaffee Pediatric Dentistry in Mesa, AZ, we are dedicated to providing compassionate and individualized care for all children, including those with special needs. By choosing an experienced dental team and taking steps to prepare your child, you can help ensure a positive and stress-free dental experience. For more information on special needs dentistry in Mesa, AZ, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lafe Chaffee, please contact us today.

Please do schedule a consultation with our highly trained team of dental experts, and we'll guide you further. Please call us at (480) 739-2993 or reach us through online consultation.

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