A kid’s first trip to the dentist might make parents and kids feel a little anxious. The good news is bringing kids to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary. All it takes is a little preparation to get your child ready to make them feel comfortable meeting the dentist for the first time.
Read to Them
One of the easiest ways to help your child understand the dentist is by reading to them about it. Picture books help kids learn all types of things, from potty training to making friends. There are a variety of great picture books about kids at the dentist to help kids understand the benefits and what to expect.
Have a Pretend First Trip to the Dentist
Kids love playing pretend games. Since you already know what it’s like going to the dentist yourself, set up a pretend dental visit. You’ll be the dentist and show your child exactly what to expect during their visit. You could even use popsicle sticks as dental tools to get them used to someone examining their teeth.
Plan a Reward
A great way to prepare for your kid’s first trip to the dentist is to give them something to anticipate after the visit. While they might feel nervous or scared before, the excitement about what’s waiting after the visit helps distract them. Then, once the visit’s over, they see it’s not a bad thing after all.
Show Them It’s Safe
If it’s feasible, schedule a dental appointment for yourself first and ask your dentist if your child can watch. You may want another adult to go with you to ensure your child doesn’t start exploring the room too much. Seeing that you aren’t afraid and how happy you are after the visit shows them it’s nothing to worry about. It also helps familiarize them with the room, the chair, and the sounds that go along with a routine visit.
Provide a Comfort Toy
Something as simple as a small stuffed animal or favorite blanket helps a child feel safer in a strange environment. Many kids at the dentist distract themselves with a small toy. It gives them something to hold and fidget with during the appointment. Talk with the dentist to make sure what’s okay to bring.
Meet the Dentist First
Not only is the first trip to the dentist scary because a child doesn’t know what will happen, but you’re also leaving them with a stranger. Help ease their anxiety by scheduling a quick meeting with the dentist before the appointment. Your child can ask questions and feel more familiar before their first official visit.
If it’s time for your child’s first visit to the dentist, see how we approach a fear of the dentist for a gentle, comforting visit.