Preparing your Child for the first Dental Visit

The most important rule of preparing your child for anything they might not like is to be honest. By having as open of a discussion as possible for their age, you will help instill a level of trust between you and your child that each of you will appreciate in the coming years of discovery for your child.

Explaining the dentist and the purpose of going to the dentist needs to be a relaxing conversation. We all know that children fear the dentist, but we don’t need to overstate the horror that awaits them. A great example is when your child use to fall down while they were learning to walk. They often look at their parents for their reaction. My wife and I always clapped and cheered every time our daughter fell down. But when we actually had the concerned look on our faces, that was when she cried.

It’s also important, however, to avoid the trap of understating the pain of going to the dentist. In all likelihood, your child will not enjoy the dentist as much as they enjoy a trip to the park. So don’t make it sound like it will be comparable to it.

Again, the best way to handle the first visit is to do so with honesty. Go over the nice things and the not-so-nice things about the trip to the dentist. Explain that when you get there, they get to read fun books and play with toys. Then, when they’re done, they will get a sucker or a toy. But also remind them that some people aren’t always comfortable and don’t always enjoy it. But explain that there isn’t a lot of pain involved, and explain the type of pain they might get.

It might also help your son or daughter to watch you go to the dentist and come out unscathed. Most dentists will be happy to help out and provide a chair for your child to sit in. Of course, it would be a good idea to bring toys or books for him/her to play with so they don’t get bored, but they would be able to watch you any time they wanted. Then, when its all over, you can get out of your chair and give your child a big smile.

The benefit of being honest is, of course, the trust your child will have in you. If they come out of the dentist with horrible memories, you can use that as a good motivator for getting them to brush and floss their teeth!

Watching your child be so uncomfortable about anything is difficult, but what your child wants more than anything is to know that you will be there will them and for them throughout the whole process. They might enjoy a bowl of ice cream at the end, too.