How to Make Your Child’s
First Dental Visit Tear-Free

Every child is different, but it seems like most children have some fear when it comes to going to the doctor or dentist. Since kids usually associate going to the doctor with getting shots, that fear is easy to understand. However, when it comes to their fear of their first visit to the dentist, you can be very supportive and help your child realize that there’s no reason to be afraid.

With our own children, my husband and I did a lot of research and preparing for their first visit to the dentist. We found a lot of different strategies that both dental professional and other parents have shared. Here are some was you can make your child’s first dental visit a positive one.

Role play
You can examine your child’s teeth to let her understand what will happen at the appointment. Then you can switch roles and have your child examine your teeth. Try to share positive experiences you’ve had at the dentist to show your child that the dentist office is not a scary place.

Let your child choose
Kids are usually pretty scared of the unknown and when your child visits the dentist for the first time, it’s unknown territory. You can empower your child by allowing her to make some of er own choices the day of the visit. You can let your child choose the outfit she’ll wear, or you can let her choose where to go for some fun after the appointment. You can even let your child brush her teeth before the visit, so she feels like she did the work to make her teeth clean for the dentist.

Communicate with the staff
When you schedule your child’s first dental appointment, inform the staff that that it is the first one. Kids can be stubborn at the dentist, by not opening their mouths or being misbehaving in the chair, so it will be helpful to let the staff know what techniques will work with your child and which ones will not. Many dental offices are prepared to deal with kids, but it’s helpful to be the advocate for your child, especially when you know what will upset your child the most.

Help your child feel safe and secure
We all know how difficult it is to talk when the dentist is working on you. Giving your child a hand motion or word will help relieve stress when it comes to the time your child is being worked on. If you child has any problems trying to say something, she can make the hand motion to let the dentist know to stop.

Give thank-you gifts
Kids love to both receive gifts and to give gifts. One way to make the office visit fun is to ask your child to remember the staff members who helped her and then make a gift or card for each of them. You can hand deliver them when your child is finished making them or you can hand them out at our next appointment.

Check pediatric dental websites
Some dentists have websites with tips on preparing your child for his or her first visit. If your dentist doesn’t have this information on their site, ask them for advice a few weeks in advance, as they have experience with children and they’ll be able to provide you with insight and ideas to help your child have a “tear-free” trip to the dentist.

Dental visits don’t have to create stress—at least not too much. Kids can have fun at the dentist and you can rest easy along the way. And although we as adults tend to put off dental visits because they’re not always the most pleasant experience, using these ideas and advice of pediatric dentists can ensure that your child will have a pleasant and successful first visit, laying the foundation for positive visits as well.

Do you have any tips to add?

Hello, I’m Kelly, a regular contributor on this blog. I live in Pennsylvania with my loving husband and our five beautiful children. I have a background in early childhood education, but I am currently homeschooling my kids. From pregnancy to postpartum to toddler life, I love sharing advice with other moms who are having a challenging time with this crazy but wonderful role of motherhood.

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