Should Parents Be Allowed in the Dental Exam Room?

At Snodgrass-King we acknowledge that every child is unique, and that they deserve personalized care that is tailored towards their individual needs. So with that being said, there is no straightforward answer as to whether parents should accompany their child to the dental exam room or not. However, we can provide some insight that may help you decide what is best for your child.


Questions to Consider

Are there office policies you must adhere to?

Every pediatric dentist is going to have their own set of rules and opinions on parents accompanying children to the dental exam room. Some encourage children to go back for treatment on their own after a certain age, while others require parents to accompany their children to ensure parent education on oral hygiene. In most cases though, it’s up to the parent and the doctor. 

How old is your child?

Studies from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry have shown that children over the age of 3 often respond better to dental treatment when their parents aren’t in sight. It is said to create an environment with less distractions, but there are many factors that go into determining what’s best for your child. Nevertheless, this can be a helpful guideline.

Is this your child’s first dental exam?

It’s a generally accepted practice for parents to accompany their child to the exam room if it is their first dental appointment ever. For patients under the age of 3, parental assistance may be needed. And for those over the age of 3, walking back with the child can help calm nerves and uneasiness (although the pediatric dentist may have the parent leave the exam room after a short period of time). The parent is generally welcome during the initial introduction and examination, but encouraged to leave before the cleaning and treatment.

Did your family switch dentists?

Switching dentists and visiting a new one for the first time can be daunting for some families. Whether you’ve recently moved or had a bad experience with a previous dentist, it’s perfectly acceptable to accompany your child to the exam room for part of the treatment or the entire time. Just make sure to check with your new dentist about their policies and rules ahead of time.

Does your child have special needs?

Pediatric dentists are specialty trained and certified to treat younger patients, including those with special needs. However, depending on your situation any pediatric dentist should be willing to work with you and your family to find a routine that’s in your child’s best interest.


Setting A Precedent

Whether you realize it or not, children are constantly learning – not only from what you say, but from what you do and how you act. So this is the part where you may have to do a little self-reflection. Ask yourself…Do you worry easily? How do you handle yourself when emotions are high? Have your own experiences at the dentist been positive? Or have they been negative?

It’s true that any new experience can be scary for a first-time patient, especially young ones. However, it’s also true that children can pick up on the nervousness or emotions of a parent, making the experience that more intimidating. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t be nervous as a parent – because it’s natural and you can’t help it – but we are saying it might be best to trust the dental professionals, trust their training, and stay behind in the waiting room. By staying behind, you are showing your child that the dentist and dental personnel are trustworthy; that your child can trust them too. 

An additional piece of advice is to speak positively about the dentist around your kids. Leading up to their first appointment and throughout their early oral health journey, you don’t want to let your own experiences affect the way they feel towards the dentist. After all, a visit to the dentist should be fun! And a positive outlook on going to the dentist will ensure healthy oral habits for the rest of their life.


Specialty Trained Dental Professionals

As mentioned before, pediatric dentists are trained specialists who treat children of all ages and children with special needs. To earn the title of a pediatric dentist, further training, and a two-year residency are required on top of the demands to become a general dentist. They are equipped to be able to care for kids at all developmental stages. In addition, a pediatric dentist will know how to effectively treat and communicate with kids of every personality type.

Snodgrass King is proud to be one of Middle Tennessee’s best pediatric dental practices. Our goal is to provide personalized care for every patient in a fun and stress-free environment while educating them on the importance of oral hygiene for a lifetime of smiling. 

Our facilities have been sanitized from floor to ceiling, and we will continue to follow all ADA, CDC, and local health department guidelines. We understand the concern you may have regarding COVID-19 and want you to know that we share those concerns and are ensuring your safety in our offices. For more information on what to expect at your next appointment, visit our website at

Snodgrass-King Dental Associates has 5 locations across Middle Tennessee (Mt. Juliet, Hermitage, Franklin, and Cool Springs). Contact us today to see if we can help jump-start and be a resource in you or your child’s healthy, dental lifestyle. We offer a variety of services for both children and adults. We can also address any orthodontic needs for children, teens, and adults. If you have any questions, call us today at (615) 771-1111.