3 Ways To Prepare Your Child For Their First Dental Visit

Posted on: 5 February 2015

Preparing for a child's first dental visit is important.  While it is recommended that this visit should occur around the age of 12 months, it is likely that many parents procrastinate and take their children at an older age.  Regardless of how old a child is when they first visit the dentist, preparing the child for the visit is beneficial for everyone involved. 

Talk about the visit in order to prepare your child in a positive way.  When speaking with your young child about the visit, remember that they do not have any background knowledge about visiting the dentist.  Although you may dislike the dentist, the child has no reason to fear or dislike the dentist.  A nervous parent will result in a nervous child! 

Don't give too many details.  If you start talking about drills and other dental equipment you could scare your child.  Allow them to hold on to a little bit of their dental innocence.  At the first visit it is unlikely that any of the objects you tried so hard to gently introduce them to ahead of time will even make an appearance.  Instead, you will have an anxious child for no reason.

When you speak about going to the dentist, always use positive words and phrases.  Avoid words and phrases like "It won't hurt."  The child has no reason to think that it will hurt, and by simply using the word "hurt" you have introduced that possibility to your child.  Telling a child that the dentist is going to count their teeth and make sure their smile is clean and pretty is a positive way to introduce them to what is going to happen.

Practice makes perfect!  Do a little "practicing" with your child at home.  Have your child open their mouth and practice counting their teeth with a toothbrush.  Getting them used to leaning back and holding their mouth open while someone pokes around inside is a huge part of the battle!  Next, let your child practice on a doll or stuffed animal.

Relax and stay calm at the appointment.  The best thing to do at the appointment is to ask how you can help.  A pediatric dentist is used to working with wiggly children.  They are likely to appreciate a parent who can ask for advice on how to best calm a nervous child, or how to relax a squirmy one.  Often, just having the parent there next to the child can be helpful.  Remember that these professionals work with children on a daily basis, and are full of strategies to get the job done. 

There are also some actions to avoid prior to your child's first dental visit.  While it may seem like a brilliant idea to bring them along to one of your appointments, that may actually backfire.  Your visit as an adult is likely to consist of much more complex and scary procedures than their visit will.  Seeing the different tools and actions of the dentist could scare the child and make it more difficult to get them in the dentist's chair.

You also should avoid using bribery.  Remember, a child has no reason to fear the dentist.  Bribery might cause them to be anxious, as they may fear there is something to be scared of.  Parents often tend to use food as a bribery, which can be a little counterproductive at the dentist's office.

To learn more, or if you have other questions, try contacting a company like North Phoenix Pediatric Dentistry.