You’ll probably never hear little kids getting excited about an upcoming trip to the dentist.

Then again, some grown-ups sometimes feel the same way about their required visits for cleaning and general dental maintenance. Though your particular dentist may be excellent at his or her job, the whole profession has a long-held reputation for being more clinical than comfortable.

But these days, there’s much more to smile about. Many modern dental offices have taken steps to make the visit more bearable, everything from softer wall colors to soothing background music in the now less sterile waiting room. Patients can put on headphones and listen to favorite tunes during their cleaning session, or focus their attention on a movie directly overhead. Kids can be rewarded for a good checkup by getting a prize — not just another free toothbrush or a silly tooth sticker. Some dentists have treasure chests for good boys and girls that they can visit before leaving. Regular patients can anticipate their reward and try to be extra good during their visit.

Toothbrush bristles - (c) The Economic Voice Ltd

Toothbrush bristles – (c) The Economic Voice Ltd

Sometimes it’s just a matter of inviting patients to an exam room and telling them what’s ahead, including what procedures and what equipment will be used. A child may be less frightened of a big loud hose, especially if he or she can hold it and turn the device on and off.

Places like Kool Smiles are designed especially with kids in mind. The child-friendly lobbies have interesting activities for different ages; the staff is especially trained for the needs of younger patients. You’re still not likely to hear the words “fun” and “dentist” in one sentence, but you can at least make it a place that has several enjoyable features. Your kids may even consider it the cool place that keeps your teeth clean.

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