When Did You Stop Escorting Your Kid in the Dentist Office?

Updated on June 04, 2014
M.C. asks from Louisville, KY
33 answers

Today my 4yo had a dental visit at a great pediatric dentistry we go to.

While I was in the waiting room, I noticed that most of the parents waited in the waiting room and sent their kids back alone. Some of them seemed to be close to my DD's age, and one was definitely younger. The assistant would call the parent back when they were done to talk and set up the next visit.

I have always felt like I need to go with her... For moral support (not that she needs it... She LOVES going to the dentist.) and so I can talk to the dentist and he assistant about anything that needs to be talked about. While I'm sure he staff is able to handle anything they need to, and have likely encountered difficult children, I also feel like it's my responsibility to go and make sure she behaves well. (Which isn't too difficult when they have The Lorax playing in a screen above her head. Lol.)

I know it's kind of a nonissue, as she only has a few more appointments before she can definitely go on her own... But I'm curious as to what the norm is. :)

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answers from Springfield on

I just went the first time and even then didn't stay. I had my other son with me, so it wasn't realistic for me to stay.

I had been going to the same practice for several years before my oldest had his first visit, so I already felt very comfortable.

Honestly, the more you can leave them to do these types of things on their own, the better. I try (try) to let them do as many things on their own as I can. It lets them know that I have confidence in their ability to handle things. It also lets them know that they have the ability to handle things. I'm so grateful that my oldest (almost 8) has really begun to let me know when I smother him. He'll say, "Mommy, I can do this myself." Sometimes we need those kinds of reminders.

For me, this is an example of something they are capable of doing without me, so I need to let them.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I only went back to the actual dentists room the first time or 2 by the time they were 4 I was sitting in the waiting room with a magazine unless they called me back to look at xrays or something. I also stopped going to the apts all together when they started to drive and could drive themselves. dentist office would call me if there was something special going on.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

What you described with the parents waiting in the waiting room is how my grandchildren's dentist runs his office. Mom went in with them the first time. The dental assistant then comes out to update the parents. They have been to the same office for 8 years. They see different dentists depending on what is to be done. They like going and all of us are comfortable with this.

I took my granddaughter recently. The assistant took me to see the dentist because he wanted to show me xrays and talk about braces. I have spoken with a dentist 3-4 times over the years.

I suggest you give staying in the waiting room a try. I was also uncomfortable at the beginning. Now I understand how it works and like it.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Chicago on

I've never been with my kids during their dental appointments--I start taking them at 2.5.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I've always just asked my kids if they wanted me to sit with them and at some point, they said "no thanks" and off they went. That point was definitely older than 4! My youngest is now 8 and I think I sat with him as late as a year ago because he really didn't want to be there. The other kids were probably around 6.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

We go to a regular dentist, not a pediatric dentist. He had been my dentist for nearly 40 years. I never stayed with the kids, although I might periodically check on them just to see how their teeth were doing. Both of my kids generally went back at the same time with different hygienists, and then when the dentist came to check them out he would call me back to debrief me. My son will soon be getting a procedure I will probably want to watch because it sounds interesting. Now my 11 year old walks to his dental and orthodontic appointments by him self because they aren't far from his school.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

The only time I walked back with them was their first visit, when they were about two and a half. After that I stayed in the waiting room. Our dentist always came out with our kids at the end of the visit to tell me what was up, how things looked, if there were any cavities or other concerns.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I went in with them the first time, then they were on their own. Around 3yrs old, I guess. My kids always behaved very well when they were not around mom or dad, so I knew behavior wouldn't be a problem. And the dentist always came out afterwards to talk about any teeth issues. And, most importantly, they didn't seem to need my moral support. Had they even *mentioned* something like "Mommy, can you stay?", I would have stayed with them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Hi M.,

I guess I'm the kook here...but NEVER. Dentist are medical professionals and they make choices and do things that you need to know. You also need to be able to witness what is done. Things can go wrong. Generally they don't, but they do pay malpractice insurance for a reason.

My humble opinion!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I still go back with my 11 year old. They have benches in front of the chairs for that reason. It also helps my 3 year old see what big brother is doing so he will sit in the chair next (not!). They always make me feel welcome and I like talking to the hygeniests and Doctor. It is no big deal either way where I go. Do what you feel comfortable with.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

My kids have been around 5-6 when they started to go back alone.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We went to a pediatric dentist until daughter was about 16.

The assistant would come to the waiting room, chat with the parent to let them know what would be done at this appointment and take the child back. They did not allow parents to go back into the examining/cleaning area. The children seemed to do well with this and I never saw anyone with issues on these "rules". Children went straight to a children's area supervised until ready to get in the chair. About 5 minutes before the Dr. was done, parents were called into a small conference area and this is when the appointment was discussed and any further appointments planned.

My daughter was always fine with it and I didn't feel the need to be with her every second. I feel it helped her be more comfortable with the dentist and staff. She loved them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I started bringing my kids to the dentist before they even turned 3 just for a quick check-up, not a real cleaning. By age 4, they were both going in on their own. I actually schedule their appointments and mine all together, they go in one room together with the hygienist while I'm getting my teeth cleaned by another hygienist. I think it's great!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Most dentists won't let the parents go back. The thing is this, when a parent is present kids tend to look for them as the authority figure in the room. That's okay most of the time but when a dentist/doc or a teacher or some other person who "needs" to be "the" authority in some situation they can't let the parent come into their area.

They have to be able to tell the child open your mouth, bite down and yes we know it's uncomfortable, and stuff like that. But if the parent is there the kid wants the parent to make the doc stop hurting them, giving them shots, drilling, etc....so the kid can get hysterical because mom or dad is sitting there and not making the doc stop.

It's really hard for the kid to transfer trust to a stranger/doc and even a familiar face if parent is present sometimes.

It happens in dance classes at our studio. If the parents bring in kiddo and drop them off kiddo usually is perfectly behaved. If mom or dad come and stay, go watch class, the kid constantly looks to mom or dad for attention. They look to mom or dad each time the teacher says to do something. Even something as simple as bounce on your toe taps all the way across the floor to that teacher.

Our pediatric dentist in OKC, Dr. Jason Lee, is amazing. He practices at Children's Hospital and Midwest City Hospital. He puts the kids out to do their fillings and other work. For the general appointments he has all my grand kids come in at the same time, I've had as many as 3 of them back in the exam area with 3 adults at the same time. He gives each an appointment for billing. Then he assembly line exams them. They each go in a different chair for cleaning and stuff preliminary to the exam. Dr. Lee often just goes up and sits down and chats with each kid and participates in the cleaning. He plays puppets with them with the lion with huge teeth sometimes. He's the best guy ever. I can't imagine taking the kids anywhere else ever, he'll have to tell me he can't see the kids anymore because they're too old.

I am spoiled now. I can't imagine not being in the back with the kids. If we had to change dentists I don't think I'd accept it if they didn't want us back there and I would go to someone else. Well, if the kids were tweens or teens I guess I would be okay without going back.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tyler on

I'm laughing at myself with this post and the answers!! I have a 19 and 15 yr old that have gone to the same Pediatric Dentist since they were 2. They provide a parent seating area in the main chair area and I've ALWAYS joined my dgtrs for any procedure. Maybe it's just with this dentist, but he knows his patients and their families, he asks about hobbies and activities and is just generally someone we all look forward to seeing twice a year! It makes going to the dentist a joy because he's so approachable and invested in his patients. I'm FORCING my 19 yr old to visit a non-pediatric dentist this summer, will need to choose as well as I did years ago with Dr. Carter!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Her first visit I sat with my daughter. After that, she was on her own. The hygienist can handle it (I often hear her telling my daughter to stop talking).

It's just a cleaning and x-rays. She doesn't need me in there. There has never been a problem or a cavity for that matter. So it's pretty simple. And I like for her to be independent.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Our pediatric dentist usually doesn't allow parents to come back. The only exception is for the first visit if the child seems extra nervous. Even when my son had nitrous oxide to do some fillings I couldn't go back.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

They offered to take her back solo for the first time at my daughter's last visit, and she's 5. The office is a lot like you described, with TVs on the ceiling and prizes everywhere. I still went with her.

I think next time I would be comfortable letting her go back alone, I just wanted her to be at an age where I knew two things: she could tell them to stop if something made her uncomfortable, and she could ask to see me if she needed me.

I doubt anything would happen at the dentist but for little kids it can be scary because they don't know how to speak up or are intimidated with new adults.

ETA: and I definitely agree with other posters that the most important part is that your kiddo says she's OK being alone. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

my daughter is almost 12 and i still go back with her. i don't plan on stopping any time soon either.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

All kids are different. Some at 4 year olds may want you in there with them and some won't. And dentists are all different also. Some may want you in there and some won't.

Basically, you have to use your own judgement with your kids. And, follow the rules of the office or make other arrangements with the dentist.

It's your decision. There is no right or wrong. What ever is more comfortable for you and your kids is ok.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We have been going to our current dental office since my older kids were 6 (2005). I think they were about 8 when they would go alone, get the cleaning done and then they would call me back to let me know how it went and if anything needed to be taken care of or possible issues. For my 6 yr old, they actually call her but look to me to follow back as well.


answers from Washington DC on

mine were fine by 4 or 5. when my 13 year old had a fairly intense dental surgery i went back with him (it was probably way more traumatic for me than him) but they didn't need me on routine dentist visits.


answers from Austin on

I think it depends on the child This young, yes, I would be there with her. The dentist and hygienist seemed to ask a lot of questions and make comments as they worked.

I think I recall once our daughter was in middle school, I always asked her, "Do you want me to go back there with you?"

Once she started driving I still would ask, do you want me to go with you? She usually still said yes, because they would ask her so many questions about what we were all up to, she felt like it all went faster. Ha!

I have been going to that dentist since he was frist out of dental school! OMG.. 35 years??



answers from Chicago on

My son is 7 and I still go back with him. I like to hear what the hygienist has to say and the dentist always meets with me. I'll probably keep going until my son wants to go back alone.



answers from Los Angeles on

I go back & will until he tells me he doesn't want me around.

We did that with SD until about age 12 when she requested.

I think it's best in order to ask questions, hear what they have to say &
give moral support.



answers from Kansas City on

My daughter is 7. We still go with her.


answers from Iowa City on

At age 4.5 or 5 with my oldest. I went back with my youngest last month (she turned 4 in April) because she is shy and asked me to. When we go back in November for her next appointment I'll ask her if she wants to go in alone and go from there.


answers from Seattle on

With my first son I went back with him way longer than I needed to! lol. He is 11 now, I probably stopped about 2 or 3 years ago. HE didn't need me...but I hate the dentist and just assumed everyone did. My second is 8 and I stopped about 3 years ago with him as well. My daughter is 3, I still go back with her. She is nervous and just needs mama to hold her hand. (I hate every second I am back there with her though!)



answers from Washington DC on

Our dentist has a bank of chairs and benches. Parents sit near their kids from tots to tweens. I think if DD needed me there, she could be 18 and I'd still be there. By the time she graduates to the regular dentist (no longer the pediatric office...our dentist will take kids 12 and up) she will be able to go by herself.

My DD is 5. I think 4 is a fine age to have Mom or Dad with them. In our case, it is also a time where they discuss what we've been doing at home, what brushing needs to be done or changed, etc. It's as much for me as them and eliminates the need to go get me and tell me all the things they do now, while the kid is being checked out.


answers from Jacksonville on

I honestly don't remember. Probably when my kids gave me the stink eye when I went to stand up and go with them. (They are 12 and 15 now).

We don't use a pediatric dentist, but he (and his staff) are fantastic with the kids and my kids love them there. I would sit in the chair provided in the treatment room and try to be quiet. I let the hygienist deal with my child and only intervened/talked when they looked at me for a response or directed something directly to me.

Now that they are older, I go back at the end, when the dentist comes in to check over everything (after the hygienist has done the cleaning and any xrays or whatever). Same thing: I am quiet unless I perceive they want input from me, or say something (make sure to clean these 2 a little better) that I need to make note of to remind the kids at home.

No big deal.



answers from Tampa on

I still go back with my 7, 8, and 13 year old. It gives me the chance to talk to the nurses and dentists. My kids have developmental delays and I feel more comfortable being back there. Nobody makes me feel weird about it.

My mom didn't go back there with us back in the day. They usually talked to her after. I'm not sure it was even allowed. Our pediatric dentist seems to be fine with me back there.


answers from Chicago on

My 16-year-old went in by herself at her last visit. I always went back with her, but this time she said she wouldn't mind if I sat in the waiting room. I took the hint.

There's an extra chair in each room, and I like my dentist and hygienist, so I would chat with them during the exam. They always made me feel welcome and I like knowing what's going on. I AM paying, and it is my kid so I never thought about not going back there.I wouldn't consider letting them go in the doctor's office alone, so why the dentist? I don't get that.

My older daughter (now 26) hates the dentist and probably wishes I would still go with her. She started going on her own at about 16 as well.



answers from St. Louis on

Until they ask me to stay in the waiting room! Mine are 6.5 and 4.5 and still want me to go in with them.

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