How to prepare your child for their first dental visit

Fear of dentists is common, but not necessarily passed down through the ages! In this article, we have some tips to help you prepare your child for their first trip to the dentist’s chair.

Firstly, it’s essential to start early. Baby teeth usually appear around four months old. It is important that a baby has his or her first dental visit before they are a year old. There, a dentist can check to make sure everything is normal, and their teeth and gums are healthy. Because the dentist can sometimes seem like a scary place for small children, the onus is on you, the parent, to prepare your child and make sure they are relaxed and comfortable. So, remember…

Don’t act afraid!

Children tend to pick up on our anxieties. If they see their parents reacting strongly to spiders for example, they often will too. For that reason, it’s best not to talk about the dentist in a negative way. Even if you’re less than keen on your own visits to the dentist, try not to show your fear in front of the kids. Put a brave face on and pretend it’s fun. If you appear relaxed and nonchalant, they will too.

Chat about the visit before you go

Talk to your child about the upcoming visit. Don’t do this too far in advance, as they might start to think it’s a monumental event and, therefore, something to worry about. Raise the subject the day before, at a time when they are happy and relaxed. If they have any questions, answer them in a positive way.Explain what’s going to happen in a way that they will understand. Role play is fun. Pretend you are the dentist. Let your toddler lie back on a chair so you can examine their teeth. This shows them they have nothing to be scared of.

child dental exam

There are some great books on the subject for children. Going to the Dentist, a First Experiences book published by Usborne is a good choice. Others include Go to the Dentist (Topsy & Tim) and Dentist Trip (Peppa Pig).

Schedule an appointment

Don’t take your child for their first dental appointment if they are sick, tired, or out of sorts. It won’t be a positive experience for anyone. Morning appointments are best, as most toddlers are fresher in the morning.

Let your child take their favourite toy along for the ride. This helps them to feel safe and secure. Teddy can sit in the dentist’s chair first and reassure your child that the chair is safe (even fun)! Lastly, plan something fun for after the visit, so your child learns to associate the dentist with nice things.

Here at AP Smilecare, we do everything we can to ensure that dental trips are positive experiences for adults and children alike. We know how common the fear of dentists is, so for adults we provide services like sedation and hypnosis amongst our core dentistry services, to take the edge off any lingering anxiety you may have about your own appointment. We’re only too happy to provide any reassurance over the phone – just give us a call on 01254 297 000 or pop into our dentist in Blackburn, and we’ll see what we can do!