There are a few sage pieces of advice that we’ve used to prep our own children for their first dental visit, and these tips have worked for many of our adult patients who are parents and bring in their little ones. These pieces of advice can be helpful regardless of your child’s age.
How do I prepare my child for their first dentist visit?
To prep for your child’s first dental visit, try the following.
- Play the dentist at home before the visit.
To help to set expectations and make it fun, pretend that you’re the dentist ahead of time! Get your child comfortable on a couch or lounging chair and pretend that you’re checking out their teeth and counting them. Applaud them for keeping their mouth open by saying affirmative phrases like, “Amazing job!” and, “Wow, the dentist is going to be so impressed!”
If your child has a doll or if you have a pet, you can also encourage your child to play dentist by counting their teeth. Kids tend to love this fun skit and it makes them more comfortable on their first visit.
- Tell them about your own dentist visits - in a very positive tone.
Your kids look to you to see if something is fun or safe. So, let them know about all the times you’ve been to the dentist in your life, and tell them how much you enjoyed getting your teeth checked! Help them to view a dentist appointment as something they can look forward to that helps their teeth and their smile.
It will also lessen any feelings of anxiety if your child knows what the dentist looks like. So, prior to bringing them in, show them pictures of the office space and the dentist on the website. You can show pictures of your own dentist, too (whether it’s the same dentist they’ll be seeing or not).
- Let them bring along a stuffed animal.
Let them know that they can choose one very special stuffed animal (or, their blanket) to accompany them to the dentist’s office. Make this part of the fun! Use language like, “Bring (your stuffed animal) along for an adventure to the dentist!”
- Plan a special outing afterwards.
Plan a fun lunch or a visit to a museum or the park for directly after the visit. This will give your child something to look forward to, and can also be used as an incentive for their cooperation during the appointment. Try saying something like, “If you do really well and keep your mouth open big for Dr. Staci, we can get frozen yogurt on the way home!”
These tips will help your child feel more at ease with their first visit to the dentist, which makes it easier for everyone involved! When in doubt, find a way to make it fun. We do all we can at our office to make sure your child feels comfortable and happy each step of the way.