As most parents know, it can take a great deal of coaxing to get children to a dental appointment. Chances are, these same parents had childhood dental experiences they’d just as soon forget, with memories of uncomfortable x-rays, seemingly-endless scrapings, and painful procedures.

What a difference a couple of decades make! Pediatric dentistry is now its own niche industry, and it has markedly changed the way dental appointments are approached. Just peek into one of these offices, and you’ll barely recognize the setting. Th e pale, worn walls of the past are now brightly-colored, oft en decorated with animals or cartoon characters. Activity areas have replaced sullen, sterile waiting rooms. Big-screen TV’s run continuous loops of child-friendly programs. One local pediatric orthodontist has a separate area upstairs for kids, where they can play games and write on the walls to their hearts’ content! You may see a reluctant child following his mom back to the dentist’s chair, but chances are, that reluctance has more to do with leaving a rad play area than having a check-up.

Not only have the settings changed, today’s pediatric dentists have the specialized training and experience to put their little patients at ease. Couple this with kid-friendly options like colored bands for braces and dozens of flavors for dental imprint material (formerly known as “mud”!), and a trip to the dentist can be something to look forward to, rather than dread. And, best of all, happier childhood dental experiences will go a long way in ensuring a lifelong commitment to a healthy, happy mouth!