It might seem like ever since your baby was born, there’s been a new milestone every day.
From the first time they grasped your finger to their first taste of baby food, they’ve been growing and changing non-stop!
Now that they’ve sprouted their first tooth (or teeth), they’re ready to enter the world of dentist appointments and teeth brushing.
While it might seem early, taking your toddler to a pediatric dentist around 6 months to one-year-old to check out their baby teeth will help ensure they have strong, clean, and healthy permanent teeth, too.
Meeting new people and being in a new environment might make your toddler nervous. It’s natural! The last thing you want is for your child to be afraid and not want to go to the dentist again.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to prepare for your child’s first dental appointment, what to do when you’re at the dentist, and how to follow up with your child after the appointment is over. By the time you’re done reading, we’re confident you’ll feel prepared to help your child make going to the dentist a comfortable (and maybe even a fun) part of their routine!
Before the Appointment
A huge factor in your child’s first appointment jitters tends to be not knowing what will happen once you’re there.
There are a few easy ways to help put your child’s mind at ease and get them familiar with what a kids dentist does.
1. Choose a pediatric dentist
Pediatric dentists specialize in working with children. Our dentists have tons of tricks to make your child’s first dental care appointment comfortable, fun, and effective.
Our offices also offer plenty of fun and distracting toys and decorations to help your child feel at ease from the moment they enter the waiting room to the first time they sit in a dentist chair.
For added comfort, check your dentist’s reviews to make sure that most other parents and their children had a nice visit.
2. Know what to expect
Knowing what the appointment will entail will help you prepare and guide your child through the process.
Your toddler’s first appointment will be more of a meet and greet with the dentist. The dentist will introduce themselves and take a quick peek at your child’s mouth.
Sometimes pediatric dentists are able to do this while you hold your child for extra comfort.
When looking in your child’s mouth, the dentist will be searching for any indicators of decay, or risk of decay. They’ll also give you a breakdown of good oral hygiene habits, so you leave even more confident than when you went in.
3. Stay clear and positive when speaking to your child
Even if your child is only a year old, they constantly pick up vocal cues, body language, and bits of words and information from you. Before you head to the dentist, explain where you’re going in a cheerful, excited tone.
Keep it simple so as not to overwhelm them. For example, you can say “We’re going to see our dentist friend! They’re going to help you keep your mouth clean.”
You can also read fun books about the dentist to give them visuals as well.
4. Schedule the appointment for when your child is well rested
If you’ve ever taken a trip to the grocery store with your child when it’s supposed to be nap time, you’ve learned firsthand that some things just aren’t worth putting off a nap for.
The dentist is one of those things.
Schedule your child’s first dentist appointment during the windows when your child is typically well rested, has a full tummy, and is ready for a new adventure!
During Their First Dental Care Appointment
Once you’ve arrived at the dentist, we’ll provide you plenty of support to help ensure your child is comfortable and ready to see the dentist. There are just a couple things you’ll need to do to help ease the process.
1. Demonstrate comfort and positivity
Your child will look to you for cues on how they should be feeling in this new environment. Be sure to greet the receptionists and dentists warmly, and keep a positive energy.
Be present with your child, and take advantage of a bit of play time in our waiting room as you wait to go into the dentist’s office to help put you both at ease.
2. Bring something familiar
Being in an entirely new place — especially a medical environment — can feel foreign and scary for your toddler, even when the people are nice and inviting!
Bring your child’s favorite comfort item, whether it be a blanket, a toy, or a book. Let them hold it throughout their appointment so they have a little extra comfort and familiarity.
3. Stay present
You are your child’s greatest comfort. Make sure you both take a bathroom break before you head in for your appointment, and make your presence known even when they can’t see you because their head is tilted or eyes are closed.
Chat with them and the dentist to help create a casual, fun environment.
After Their First Dental Care Appointment
You may want to avoid bribing your child to go to the kids dentist, as this can reinforce the idea that it’s something scary or daunting. But it’s totally fine to reward your child afterwards with a fun outing or new book from the library.
Just avoid candy as a reward, as you’ll want your children to get used to making sure to prioritize their dental health, especially after getting a cleaning or check-up!
Positive verbal enforcement
Children love to be verbally encouraged, and take your loving words to heart.
After their first dentist appointment, chat with your child about how they did a great job and how much fun you had with them. If they’re old enough, take some time to listen to their recollection of the experience.
Let them know they’ll be going to the kids dentist regularly, and that you look forward to seeing their shiny, healthy teeth — and they should, too!