Your Child’s First Dental Appointment
We all want your child’s first dental visit to be a good experience for them. First, if you have dental anxieties then you are not the best person to be discussing a child’s first appointment with them or taking them to their appointment. Young children are very perceptive, they will pick up on your anxiety (no matter how hard you try to hide it) and become scared. This is the reason dental offices have a policy of not letting parents be with their children while the office is caring for their child’s needs. Exceptions are made to this policy depending on a child’s special needs. Even parents without any dental anxieties can become nervous about how their child will react and cause their child to have a bad first experience. Your child is being cared for by an experienced and highly trained dental staff, trust them, yours is not the only child they provide care for. They will come and get you if they feel they need your assistance with your child.
What is safe to tell your child about their first dental visit? As little as possible. The truth is you really do not know exactly what is going to happen at their first visit and so how can you describe it to them? Also you may describe things using terms that seem harmless based on your experience but scare a child. For example, using the term scraping when describing the cleaning of teeth. To a child that associates scraping with getting to clean out the frosting bowl when mom makes a cake, this is a good term. To an accident prone child that is always falling down and scraping parts of their body sore, this is a bad term. The dentist and dental staff will explain to your child everything they are going to do before they do it. If you have already tried to describe what will happen, when things are described differently during their visit it will only confuse them and cause them to become scared. Answer all your child’s questions honestly and as briefly as possible. It is OK to say you don’t know the answer, and they should ask the dentist during their visit.
There are several good children’s books which tell the story of a first visit to the dentist, (Berenstain Bears, Arthur). These are good stories to read in a casual manner, as if a dental visit is as normal as grocery shopping.