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

Free Teddy Bear Clinic

Shani Thornton is a Certified Child Life Specialist that supports children coping with illness, trauma, loss, and transitions. She will be facilitating a hands-on learning workshop for families.

Young children can feel overwhelmed and fearful of medical and dental experiences. The teddy bear workshop is designed to educate and support families on useful tools that ease fears and trauma, strengthen advocacy skills, and provide them with a positive healthcare experience. Children are given an opportunity to play with real and pretend medical materials, which help them become familiarized with the tools and find a sense of control within the play.  Shani will also be there to validate emotions, clear up misconceptions, and teach coping strategies to help kids feel confident and well prepared for their next doctor and dentist visit.

When: Wednesday, September 21st at 10:15 am

Where: Loomis Basin Community Park South 3550 Ong Pl, Loomis, CA 95650

Who can join: This is open to the public. We encourage Placer County families with young children 0-5 years old to attend

If you have any questions, please email Shani at ChildLifeMommy@gmail.com