Tips to Ensure a Great First Dentist Experience For Your Child

September 19, 2019

We all know someone who is afraid of the dentist. Often it’s because they didn’t have a great first experience as a child. At Let’s Smile Dental we want to make sure that’s not your child! Our goal is to establish great oral health habits for your little one, in a fun, friendly and safe environment. We want to be a place that  they’re excited to visit!  To that end we’ve put together some tips to ensure your child’s first trip to the dentist is as painless as possible (for you too!)

  1. Bring them early! You might think that taking your child to the dentist before their first birthday sounds strange, but we think it’s an important step to ensuring both strong dental health and a great relationship with their dentist. Just as repeated exposure to a new person helps with separation anxiety, repeated exposure to the dentist will make the experience a familiar one. Start ‘em young and they’ll see the dentist as a familiar and friendly face! 
  2. Prep your child. Kids like to know what’s happening before it actually happens. So much is new for them in this world that it’s our job as adults to prep them. Spend at least a week talking about your visit to the dentist - make sure they know what day you’re planning to visit and tell them all about what might happen. No detail is too small: you’ll go to a small building, check in with a front desk, play in a waiting room and then go into a room with a big chair that moves! A hygienist and doctor will look at their teeth with a small mirror on a stick and clean their teeth with a fun toothbrush that vibrates! They might even have a water squirter! Think about framing everything as a fun new adventure. 
  3. Read stories. Give them a frame of reference for your conversations. Some great ones are: Curious George Visits the Dentist by H. A. Rey, The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan Berenstain, and Dentist First Time by Jess Stockham. (Links to Amazon here or you can visit our local bookstore or library!)
  4. Role Play. For young children, pretend isn’t just about playing, it’s about processing and understanding the world around them. Suggest playing dentist with your child - take turns being the dentist, patient and hygienist. Have a favorite toy or stuffed animal be the patient. 
  • Practice brushing teeth. Not only is this a good idea for establishing great habits early, it helps your kiddo feel comfortable with a toothbrush or other tools in his or her mouth.  
  • Use a Pediatric Dentist. While it is perfectly acceptable to bring your child to a family dentist, a pediatric dentist is keenly aware of the developmental stages your child is going through. He or she not only is specially trained to work with your child’s growing mouth, they’ve chosen to work specifically with kids and are attuned to their needs. Plus, you’re much more likely to have a fun waiting room with toys! 

At Let’s Smile Dental, we offer a fun, friendly and open environment. Our dentists are well versed with first time patients and are excited to meet you and your little one!  Click below or call 703-719-5828 today to schedule your first appointment. We can’t wait to meet you!


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