How to Prepare Your Child for Their First Dentist Visit

Guest Blogger, Dixie Somers

Going to the dentist is not always a pleasant experience, especially for children. The unfamiliar environment and sharp dental instruments can be overwhelming for kids, so it’s important that you take steps to prepare them for their first visit. Here are some tips to help make your child’s first trip to the dentist a positive one.

Educate and Reassure Your Child

It is important that your child knows what they can expect during their visit, so explain the process in simple terms with language they can understand. Let your child know that the dentist will be examining their teeth, cleaning them, and possibly taking X-rays. Remind them that there will be people present who are there to help them stay safe and comfortable throughout their appointment. Letting your child know that you will accompany them should also provide reassurance.

Make it Fun!

It is also helpful to create a fun atmosphere around the appointment by reading books about going to the dentist or playing “dentist” games with stuffed animals or dolls at home before the visit. You may even want to use a stuffed animal or doll as an example when explaining what will happen at the dental office—it may make things less daunting if they can imagine something familiar going through the same process as they will go through.

Make it a Positive Experience 

It’s important that you also maintain an upbeat attitude when talking about going to the dentist. Avoid using words like “scary” or “painful” when discussing upcoming appointments; instead focus on how much fun and helpful it will be! Let them know that going to the dentist regularly helps keep their teeth strong and healthy, which means fewer cavities! You don’t want them associating going to the dentist with anything negative—make sure they view it as a positive experience overall.

Choose the Right Dentist

The right dentist office goes a long way in ensuring your child has a positive experience on their first visit. Make sure you select an office where staff has plenty of experience working with children and who is patient and understanding when it comes to anxious kids. Seek out pediatric dentists, or specified offices such as Kids Choice Dental Vision and Braces. If possible, ask for referrals from friends and family members who have taken their own children there in order to get an idea of how well-suited the office may be for your little one’s needs.

Making sure your child has a good experience on their first trip to the dentist is essential in helping set healthy habits early on in life—habits that will stay with them into adulthood! Taking time beforehand to educate and reassure your child while also making it fun can go a long way toward making this transition smooth and successful. Choosing an experienced pediatric dental office staffed by friendly professionals also helps ensure that your little one feels safe during their appointment! With these tips in mind, you should be fully prepared for a stress-free introduction into dentistry.

Additional Resources

7 Tips to Help Your Child at the Dentist

Grief Support in a Classroom

This morning I worked with an elementary class that is coping with the recent loss of a peer

We started the session off with a choice of a Beanie Baby as a comfort item. The class was filled with laughter and tiny voices as they shared their Beanie Baby names and “ their ancient birthdates, 1996”. 

I then did some illness education on what caused their friend to become sick and die. There were lots of questions, and misconceptions were clarified.

The students then began to describe their friend and shared some wonderful memories. We wrote them down on the smart board. Some of the ones that stood out were “determined, courageous, kind, hilarious, and great friend.” 

We talked about grief and what that was. Kids raised their hands when they identified with some of those big emotions. This helped them to feel validated and normalized that they weren’t the only ones experiencing it.
I then facilitated a painting memory-making rock activity. The kids came up with such creative ways to honor their friend.

Their classmate was a treasure collector. He had rocks, seashells, and character figurines. His wonderful family allowed his classmates to choose some of these items as a keepsake. This part of the session made my heart just melt. They carefully found the items that they wanted and shared them with each other.

We wrapped up our session by coming up with coping ideas for their grief. We added them to the smart board. I also provided the class with a Worry Deposit Box.

I appreciate the love and support that this school provides to its students and families. They knew how important it was to address their grief and find a supportive space to express it.

Additional Resources

Grief and Loss: A Guide for Caregivers 

Helping My Preschooler Cope with Grief and Loss

Child Life Specialists Take on Oprah’s Favorite Things

It was an honor to be part of the Wonders & Worries podcast last week with Julie May.

Our second season closes with a very special guest. In this podcast, we are joined by Shani Thornton, CCLS as she collaborates to share a Child Life Specialist’s take on Oprah’s Favorite Things. Resources in the community, favorite calming techniques, the best things about supporting kids… it’s all in there.

Click Here to take a listen