How to prepare your child for their first dental appointment

Your child’s first dental appointment is an important event because this is when the child will be introduced to the office, the people who work there and the procedures that take place when examining the teeth. Most parents know as well that first impressions for your children are often lasting ones, and visiting the dentist for the first time is no exception. Some children might have a fear of the dentist because of the lights that shine in the face and the people who work in close proximity to the face and in the mouth. Having fingers and instruments in their mouth can create anxiety, especially involving people they do not know. There are some ways to prepare your child for the first dental appointment to help take away some of that apprehension.

If possible, go back to the exam area with the child. Ask if you can hold the child’s hand. This will also give you an opportunity to ask questions about the teeth and see what the dentist will do so that you are comfortable with the staff as well. Showing that you, as a parent, are comfortable in the environment and show that there is nothing to fear, is a good first step. Discuss what will happen when the child is in the exam area. Tell the child that he might sit in a chair for a period of time while the dentist examines their teeth. If the child will need to receive any fillings or other dental work, then you need to let the child know that he won’t be able to get up until the work is completed but that the staff will make him feel as comfortable as possible.

Talk to your child about the many things that happen at the dentist. Find a website so that you can better show the child X-rays, ways to clean the teeth and how the dentist will count the teeth in the mouth. A pediatric dentist will often let your child know exactly what is being done at the first visit before any tools are introduced in the mouth. Tell your child how important it is to see the dentist on a regular basis as the dentist can see cavities and make their mouth ‘super’ clean with fluoride that is something not easily done at home.

And with many children, rewards are always appreciated and can serve as good motivators, so after their first dental appointment, provide positive reinforcement and perhaps some reward that you would see fit.