Preparing your Child for the first Dental Visit

Working in a dental office for nine years I can tell you the dos and don’ts of preparing your child for their first dental visit. This can be an exciting time or an apprehensive one for you both. For one, the Dentist is going to see if you have been doing your part in taking care of your child’s teeth. They will be able to tell if you have passed down your fears of the dentist as well as if you have flossed their teeth. I’m sure we would all like to receive an A for effort and watch our children walk away with a “No Cavities” sticker at the end of their appointment. So here are a list of dos and don’ts to consider.

1. Do bring your child to one of your appointments to see you have your dental cleaning done. This alleviates all the guess work of what to prepare them for. Ask your hygienist for advice.

2. Do discuss with your child what will happen at their first visit. Many people are unaware of the happy visit. This is for the first timers in the chair. It will include a simple ride up and back in the reline position along with introducing the patient to the dental instruments. My kids would usually let me count their teeth and show them a demonstration on brushing without a hitch. If the patient or child accepted our hands in their mouth I would try and take some x-rays, a quick polish, and fluoride. I really never tried to push too much on them the first go around.

3. Do read your child books or watch videos on dental visits. This will help them feel ready and excited for their appointment.

4. Don’t complain about the dentist or appointments you have to go to. Don’t tell them ahead of time that they will be getting shots. This promotes fears that are unnecessary. Yes, they will numb the tooth, but why make them apprehensive and fearful of something that may not bother them as it would yourself. The dental offices have newer options these days such at nitrous oxide to help during procedures.

5. Don’t assume you need to accompany your child during their visit. Nine out of ten times a child will behave better without you in the room. They can see on your face if you are going to react to what is about to take place. Let the assistant do his or her job and enjoy your book in the waiting room. They will come and get you if they need you.

6. Reward good behavior. This is a very special milestone for you and your child. Bring your camera and make this exciting. If it’s exciting to you if will most likely be exciting to them. Tell them how proud you are. We all need praise from our parents.

7. Last, but not least, do brush and floss your child’s teeth up to the age of 6. Your children need your help. Get them in the habit early and lead by example.

After preparing your child for their appointment they will in turn have a successful visit which will lead to more successful visits.