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How To Prepare for Your Child’s First Dental Appointment

Learn how to prepare for your child's first dental appointment and help them look forward to visiting their dentist!
a child's first dental appointment - young girl holding a stuffed animal talking to her dentist

Your child’s first dental appointment is one of the important events that you should help turn into a positive and pleasant experience so they can become comfortable with the dental environment. Normally, parents book the first dental appointment for their child between the ages of one and three. This dental visit, if it’s your first child, is also an opportunity for you to learn more about caring for your child’s teeth and maintaining their oral health.  

Help Your Child Feel at Ease about Dental Visit

Making your child feel at ease about visiting the dentist may determine their willingness to visit the dentist in the future. You should help your child feel comfortable and believe that going to the dentist is something wonderful that will help protect their teeth. You should avoid any comments that refer to fear and focus only on the positive aspects of your child’s visit. 

Answer Questions About Dentist in an Honest but Positive Manner

Children’s curious nature means that they may ask questions about dentists if they are old enough to hold a simple conversation. It’s important to be honest with them and emphasize the positive aspects of going to the dentist while displaying a sense of excitement. At the age of your child’s first visit, the dentist is most likely going to examine the child’s oral health, may do a quick and gentle cleaning or a fluoride treatment. Since the is normally no pain involved, children should be encouraged to look forward to their first dental examination experience.   

Play Dentist / Read a Book / Watch a Video About Visiting a Dentist

One of the most effective ways to help children understand and learn your child’s first dental appointment is role-playing. By playing dentist with them, you can describe the steps or actions involved and what they will experience on their first visit. 

Likewise, by reading a book or watching a short video about children or a favourite character visiting a dentist, you will familiarize your child with dentists and dental exams. There are numerous children’s books and educational videos about dentists and a child’s first positive dental experience. By doing so, you will help your child relate to the character in the book or video and help minimize any fears they may have about going to the dentist for the first time. 

Visit the Dental Office Prior to the Appointment

If it’s possible, you can also take your child to the dentist before their actual appointment to get familiarized with the dental office environment. It’s also an excellent opportunity for them to get to know some of the staff and dentists so they won’t feel overwhelmed on the day of their appointment.

Schedule the Appointment Wisely

When you schedule your child’s appointment is something you need to take into account as well. It’s best to schedule at a time when your child is rested and generally in a good mood. The child should be well-rested and fed to increase the chances that they will be cooperative.

Praise and Reward Your Child

A positive attitude and offering praise before and after your child’s first dental appointment is also a good way to make visiting a dentist something to look forward to. Praising your child for their good behaviour and willingness to cooperate with the dentist. You can also reward your child with a treat or a visit to a playground for behaving well and the dentist will normally offer them a toothbrush, toothpaste, or some other small item at the end of the visit. 

However, the reward should only be provided after the child displays the desired behaviour, not as a bribe for going to the dentist. If a reward is used as a bribe, it can have the opposite effect of what you want and can condition your child to expect it every time there’s a dentist appointment.

Be Prepared for Reluctance

Sometimes children’s behaviour can be unpredictable no matter how much you prepare them for a new experience. Unfamiliar people, places, smells, and sounds can make children anxious and apprehensive. It’s not unusual for young children to cry or have a temper tantrum. In such situations, try to reassure your child that you’ll there by their side to support them and that the experience will be fun.

Contact Us for More Information

Our dentists and staff at Langley Dental Centre treat a large number of children and strive to make every child feel safe and comfortable during their dental appointments. We believe that children who learn early that dental visits are neither painful nor unpleasant generally grow into adults who feel comfortable with regular dental upkeep. 

We refer to a child’s first dental appointment  as their “happy visit.” Your child will be shown the tools we use, are taken for a chair ride, and the dentist gets to “count” their teeth. Like adults, children should see the dentist every six months. The schedule is especially important to maintain for kids whose teeth are in a state of flux as baby teeth disappear and adult teeth erupt. Regular visits also allow your dentist to assess how well the permanent teeth are growing in and recommend steps for a healthier bite. Contact our Langley dental office today to book your child’s first dental appointment. You can call us at 604-455-6247, contact us online, or visit our dental office at 8590 200 Street, Unit #3 in Langley. We look forward to seeing you!

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