How to Prepare Your Child for That First Dental Visit – Dental Health Society

Updated 6/22/2020

Children can have a range of reactions to a dentist, from fearful anxiety to curiosity. Preparing a child for that first dental visit can help cut down on the fear and anxiety to create a better experience for everyone involved.

Some parents may be tempted to put off checkups because of their child’s reluctance. But along with at-home dental hygiene, visits to the dentist are essential for their dental health. The first appointment should come much sooner than some parents realize. Experts suggest scheduling that first dental visit within six months of the appearance of the first baby tooth, or by the first birthday, whichever comes first.

Why Children Sometimes React Negatively to the First Dental Visit

If a child has never been to a dentist before, he or she has no experience on which to build expectations. Everything is new to them—and sometimes scary. Even if they have been to a dentist before, a new office or a new dentist can cause anxiety, too.

Now consider some of the things that a child might experience during that first visit:

With all of these experiences, it’s no wonder some children feel “out of sorts” when visiting a dentist for the first time!

And when a child is not comfortable with his or her environment, they can have a number of reactions. They might:

It is important to remember that these reactions are completely normal and age-appropriate. Your child is not trying to be difficult. They are simply trying to cope with their fear in the situation.

That said, many children have a positive experience during their first dental visit. He or she might simply be curious about the new sights and sounds around them. They can feel comfortable around your new dentist, especially if that dentist is experienced at interacting with kids. It is best for parents not to assume that their kid will react negatively. Children will naturally pick up on your anxiety, which could inadvertently make the situation worse.

Preparing Your Child—and Yourself—for the Visit

The best way to ensure a calm and successful first dental visit is to take a little time to prepare your child and set expectations about what will happen.

Still Feeling Anxious about That First Dental Visit?

The first dental visit can make both parent and child nervous. No parent wants to see their child upset or frightened. Remaining calm and ready for how a child can react will help prepare you both. Parents may also want to consider a pediatric dentist, as they have more experience treating little ones.

An early start on good dental health is important for all kids. A positive experience at that first dental visit can start them on a lifetime of good oral care and overall health. If you need to find a dentist for your child, use our online search tool for one in your area.

This content was originally published here.