Got A Child With ADHD? Four Approaches To Help In The Pediatric Dentist’s Office

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, has its challenges. Certainly not the least of these challenges is just getting your child to sit in the pediatric dentist's chair for an exam. No doubt he or she wants to see everything, explore everything, run around the chair, and press every button. The following approaches can help you get your child to just sit in the chair for a few minutes at a time, and then the dentist and the hygienist can work through the appointment.


The child with ADHD that cannot seem to stop touching everything will respond well to this approach. Find a couple "fidget" toys that your child really likes. Make them as tactile as possible, since he or she will not be able to see what the toys do while keeping his/her mouth open for the dentist. Redirect your child to play with the fidgets in hand if he or she suddenly gets distracted by a dental instrument or button on a machine.

Light Reduction with Sunglasses

Sometimes just reducing the amount of light overhead is enough to calm a child with ADHD. Indoor lighting seems to have unnatural effects on children with autism and ADHD, so it is important that you reduce this problem by either turning out or turning down the lights, or giving your child sunglasses to wear during the visit. Since you cannot do the former in a dentist's or doctor's office, do the latter. Most kids will think it is really cool to wear sunglasses anyway.


Nothing makes a child with ADHD click in tune with everyone else faster than counting. Tell your child that he or she has to lay back in the dentist's chair and open his or her mouth for a slow count of ten. As your child listens for that last magic number, his or her mind is captivated and calmed for that ten-plus seconds. Repeat this approach as often as you need to to get through the appointment. If your child needs any restorative dental work, you may need something other than counting to distract and/or calm him or her.

Sleeping Medication

A light sleeping medication can help too. Sometimes to calm a fast mind and a fast, wriggly body, your pediatrician may suggest an OTC (over-the-counter) sleeping medication. You certainly can give a dose to your child before walking into the dentist's office. By the time he or she is sitting in the dentist's chair, the medication should take effect and your child should be much more mellow. This is especially useful if your child will need cavities filled, teeth sealed, or teeth capped.