General Dental Information
and Education Page
Child's First Dental Visit
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 pickup 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
during their treatment. 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.
I have seen children smile and talk with the dentist and staff during
their treatment, only to go in the waiting room, see the look of
anxiety on mom or dad face and start crying. We have one child that
does this at every visit. He has learned that if he cries after
a visit, in front of mom, he will get a special treat (candy, ice
cream, toy) for being such a brave little child.
What is safe to tell your child about their first
dental visit? As little as possible. The truth is you do not know
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 scrapping when describing the cleaning of teeth.
To a child that associates scrapping 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 scrapping
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. Young
children react badly to finding out mom or dad were wrong. 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, (Bearenstein Bears, Arthur).
These are good stories to read in a casual manner, as if a dental
visit is as normal as grocery shopping.