If you think about a child's perspective, it's understandable that they may feel nervous or scared to visit the dentist for the first time. After all, they'll be in a place with new people, and unfamiliar tools and technology will be everywhere they look.
For children who aren't yet used to dental care, having their mouths examined might feel invasive or intimidating.
That said, it's important that your child has positive first dental visits, since these can set the tone for your child's future attitude toward dental care. Every parent wants their little one to get off to a good start!
One of the best things you can do to make your children's first dental appointments non-threatening and positive is to do a little preparation ahead of time. When your child is feeling calm and relaxed, sit them down and have a chat about what they can expect.
Here are some tips on what parents have told us works best when it comes to what to say - and not say.
Choose your words wisely and don’t be too specific.
Try to avoid words that might seem scary to your child. For example, "needle" or "drill" might be alarming. Instead, you could replace "needle" with "spray" or "spritz", or try "whistle brush" instead of drill.
Ultimately, your best bet is to keep it simple. You could just say:
"The dentist is going to count your teeth and make them nice and clean."
If your child asks follow-up questions, be honest, but continue to keep it as simple as you can, and use mild language.
Play down your own negative feelings and experiences.
Many adults feel nervous about visiting the dentist as well. It’s quite normal, but you probably don’t want to pass those feelings on to your children!
When you talk about your dental experiences and feelings with your child, try to keep your language mild and positive.
Consider a pretend visit.
Before the first dentist appointment, play pretend with your child. You can be the dentist and they can be the patient. All you'll need is a toothbrush.
Count your little one's teeth by starting with the number one or the letter A. Avoid making drilling noises or lining up other "instruments." You can even hold up a mirror and show her how the dentist might look at and check her teeth.
Let your child role-play by using a toothbrush to clean the teeth of a stuffed animal or doll. The key is getting your child familiar with the routine so that they're more comfortable for the real visit.