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How Can I Help Prepare My Child for Their First Dental Visit?

Sep 01, 2023
How Can I Help Prepare My Child for Their First Dental Visit?
Is your child's first dental visit approaching, and you're unsure how to prepare? Learn a few essential tips so your child can have a positive and fun first visit, laying the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles!

Bringing your child to the dentist for the first time can be an exciting milestone, but it can also raise many questions. Many parents wonder how to make the experience enjoyable and stress-free for their little one.

At Proud to Smile Dentistry in Bernardsville, New Jersey, Patricia Swaintek-Lamb, DMD, Karima West, RDH, and the rest of our team are here to help make your child’s first dental visit a positive experience. 

Our team offers specialized pediatric dentistry services to help reduce your little one’s risk of oral health concerns, like gum disease and tooth decay. Keep reading to learn our top tips for making the process smooth for both you and your child.  

Tips to help you prepare at home

Taking time to prepare at home in advance of your child’s first visit can go a long way in easing your little one’s nerves. Here are some tips to help:

Start early

Begin with good oral care at home from an early age. Ideally, children see a dentist as soon as their first teeth form. But in the real world, we can’t always bring our child to the dentist at such an early age. In that case, bring them as soon as possible. 

Play pretend dentist and read picture books

You can play pretend dentist at home to help your child get used to the concept. Let them open their mouth while you count their teeth, or let them play the role of dentist to a stuffed animal or doll. You can also read children’s books that center on going to the dentist. 

Talk positively about what to expect

Help your child be ready for their dental visit by talking positively about what to expect. Use simple language to tell them how their provider looks at their teeth, gums, and jaws. Let them know the provider gently cleans their teeth, and might apply a fluoride treatment. 

Tips for what to do during the visit

Once your child is in the chair, you can play a big role in making the visit a success. Here’s how: 

Keep nerves at bay with distraction

Once you’re at the office, you can help keep nerves away by using distraction. For example, you can let your child play a game on your iPad or phone, read them a book, have them color or solve riddles or puzzles, or bring along a sibling or friend to play with in the waiting area. 

Stay calm so your child stays calm

Stay calm and cheerful during the appointment. Your attitude can greatly influence how your child feels about their dental visit.

Bring a comfort item

If your child has a favorite toy or a special blanket, feel free to bring it along. A comfort item can make the experience less daunting.

Tips for after the dental visit

You can also take steps after your child’s first dental visit to make sure future visits go as smoothly as possible. 

Praise and reward

Simple praise from a parent can go a very long way. After your child’s first dental visit, reward their good behavior by telling them how well they did — even if things didn’t go as smoothly as you would have liked. These words from you help reinforce good habits and make the next trip to the dentist easier. You may also consider giving them a small reward, like a sticker or extra playtime.

Establish a routine

Consistency is key. Set a regular schedule for dental check-ups, usually every six months, and stick to a daily brushing and flossing routine.This helps ensure future visits aren’t a surprise, and reduces the risk of having to have a surprise dental procedure, like a filling. 

Ready to set up your child’s first dental visit? Schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Proud to Smile Dentistry in Bernardsville, New Jersey, today.