For many parents, scheduling their child’s first dental appointmentis intimidating. And who can blame them? They aren’t sure how their little one will react when they visit the dental clinic for the first time, or whether or not they’ll like their pediatric dentist. Not only that, but the sight and sound of dental tools can be intimidating for children, causing them to form dental fears and phobias. Fortunately, there are several ways you can prepare your child for their first dental appointment so they have a pleasant experience and want to come back for more teeth cleanings in the future. Here are a few tactics to try if you are worried about how your child will respond during their first dental checkup:

Educate Them

In many cases, dental fears and phobias develop from the unknown. If your child has no idea what to expect before you take them to the dentist, they are likely to be alarmed when they hop into the dentist’s chair and a stranger starts poking tools in their mouth. A few weeks before your child’s first dental visit, sit them down and explain the basics of a routine dental exam, beginning with brushing and flossing. Talk to them about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene habits, and tell them that visiting a children’s dentist twice per year will keep their teeth healthy. Use kid-friendly language that they can understand, and answer their questions honestly without alarming them or leaving a lot up to their imagination.

Read Books & Watch TV Shows Together

Picture books and kids’ TV shows are another great tool to use when you’re preparing your child for their first dental exam. Young children identify with fictional characters, and when they see their favorite talking animal go to the dentist, they might not be quite as scared when it’s their turn. Some good resources to check out are:

  • Books:
    • The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain
    • What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist by Heidi Murkoff
    • Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer
    • Elmo Visits the Dentist by P.J. Shaw
    • Vera Goes to the Dentist by Vera Rosenberry
    • ABC Dentist by Harriet Ziefert
  • TV Shows:
    • Peppa Pig — “Peppa’s Pearly Whites”
    • Barney & Friends — “The Dentist Makes Me Smile”
    • Dora the Explorer — “Dora’s Fun at the Dentist”
    • Arthur — “Arthur’s Tooth”

Bring Them With You

Another way to prepare your child for their first teeth cleaning at your family dental clinic is to bring them to one of your appointments. Before the appointment, explain that the dentist is going to clean your teeth to keep the bad germs away, and that it doesn’t hurt. Then, when you arrive at the dental office, introduce your little one to your dental hygienist and tell them that they are here to learn what a dentist does and how they protect your teeth. Talk about it excitedly so that your little one is intrigued, and allow your dentist to explain what they are doing during the appointment so your child knows that you are okay. When the appointment is over, give your little one a big smile and tell them that you have clean, healthy teeth because of the dentist!

Start Them Young

When you bring your child to the dentist at an early age, they will have less time to develop irrational fears and will be less likely to throw a tantrum in the dentist’s chair. The ideal age to schedule your first appointment with a kids’ dentist is before your child’s first birthday, around the time they start walking. During this initial appointment, your child will become familiar with the dentist’s office, taking in their surroundings and getting to know their dentist. Some of their baby teeth will be coming in at this point, so their pediatric dentist will be able to tell if things are looking normal. Then, when your child loses their baby teeth and their adult teeth grow in, their dentist will be able to determine whether or not they’ll need braces, Invisalign®, cavity fillings, gum treatments, and more as they age. If they visited the dentist for the first time when they were a baby, they’ll be used to having strange objects in their mouth and will be able to endure a little discomfort during these dental treatments and procedures.

Reward Them

Children respond well to positive reinforcement, rather than being scolded. If your child is resistant to the idea of going to the dentist, try to recognize that this is probably a sign of fear, rather than stubbornness. Address your child’s fears and let them know that they have nothing to worry about, and if they are still hesitant, tell them that you’ll give them a reward if they make it through their first dental appointment without throwing a tantrum. Odds are, this will give them the motivation to get through the appointment, and more often than not, they’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well it went. Small toys work great as a reward for going to the dentist, so stock up on bouncy balls, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and other fun things to get your child excited about their first dental appointment.

Book An Appointment With Our Pediatric Dentists In Downtown Ottawa

Now that you have a few tricks up your sleeve, are you ready to schedule your child’s first dental appointment? At Constitution Dental, we welcome families with small children and provide pediatric dental services for young kids who are starting to get their baby teeth. We aren’t like other dental offices in Downtown Ottawa; our family dental clinic is clean and comfortable, with an environment that is inviting for patients of all ages. We love providing dental care for families, and our pediatric dentists look forward to getting your little ones excited about their oral health. If you are looking for a friendly family dentist in Downtown Ottawa, contact us to schedule your child’s first dental appointment, or stop by our dental office today!