Preparing Children for a Dental Visit

Written by Dr. McConnell on Dec 12, 2021

Child In Dentist Chair

While the official recommendation is for children to have their first dentist appointment no later than their first birthday, the reality is that we see children of various ages make their initial visit to Marin Modern Dentistry, and dealing with some nerves is a very common thing. While family dentistry in Marin is as harmless, safe, and convenient as it ever has been, dealing with those anxieties can sometimes feel like a tough challenge for parents and guardians.

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Thankfully, there are a few things adults can do to help children have an easy and successful first trip to the dentist. Here’s how you can help your child prepare for their initial trip to the dentist:

Four Tips to Prepare Your Child for the Dentist

1. Set an Example

Far and away the most important tip for ensuring your child doesn’t feel anxious before their dentist’s appointment is to set a good example for them when having your teeth cleaned and preparing for your dental appointments. In other words, when you’ve got a dentist appointment forthcoming, you can act excited to go and mention how good it feels to have clean teeth after your cleaning. If you express fear and anxiety, your child is likely to pick up on that and echo your emotions. The cooler, calmer, and more collected you are, the more likely the child is to feel the same way.

2. Read Books about the Dentist

There are countless books available that help children understand what a dental visit may be like and to help ease their anxiety about the dentist. Reading some books about why the dentist is so important and why they aren’t as scary as some kids think is a great way to help prepare them emotionally and mentally for what’s to come. If they can see their favorite imaginary characters knock out their dentist appointments with no issues, it helps the children feel like they can do it, too.

3. Tour the Office

Sometimes it can help ease a child’s anxiety to tour the dentist’s office before their appointment to help remove any imagined fears from their heads. Because kids often have no context for what a dentist appointment entails, they can imagine some pretty scary things in their heads. Seeing what the office and chair and instruments look like can help quell their fears a bit.

4. Inform Wisely

Some parents and guardians have had success in lowering anxiety by telling their children about their dentist’s appointment the same day as the appointment. Telling them early can make them feel anxious for days or weeks ahead of time, rather than feeling anxious for a couple of hours. If you don’t give them time to build up scary thoughts in their head, those thoughts may never occur. That said, if yours is a child who does better with some warning ahead of time, give them time to process. You know your kid best, so inform them when it’s best to do so!

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If you are interested in making a first dental appointment for your child, give us a call here at Marin Modern Dentistry so we can get you set up for that initial visit. Novato dentists do a great job helping ease children into the experience of taking care of their teeth, and hopefully, these tips will help make that trip go as smoothly as possible!