A child’s first time in a dental office can feel like a rite of passage. While there will always be some nervousness, today, Children’s Dental Center is here to answer a question you probably have as a parent: How can I ensure a positive first dental visit for my child?

How to Prepare

Today, we’ll break it down into two steps: Before the visit and during the visit. Here are some smart ways to make it an easier experience for your child going in:

  1. Good Timing: If possible, schedule their first dental visit when their child’s first tooth appears or by their first birthday. This really helps your child get familiar with the dental environment. If you wait a couple of years, it’s not the end of the world-but we do recommend them being toddlers at the latest.
  2. Preparing Your Child: Talk to your child in a positive and reassuring manner, using age-appropriate language to explain what will happen during the visit and the importance of keeping their teeth healthy.
  3. Role-play: It can be helpful to utilize toys that resemble dentist tools or to otherwise pretend to be the dentist and let the child be the patient. You can use a toothbrush to demonstrate brushing and counting their teeth. Making it into an activity can help to reduce their anxiety.
  4. Choose a Pediatric Dentist: We obviously recommend prioritizing treatment with someone who specializes in treating children. We have a fun environment full of decor and color, and both our doctors and our team are completely trained to handle a child’s unique needs and make it an enjoyable experience. 
  5. Keep It Simple: Let your child know that their first visit is quick and easy. 
  6. Stay Calm: Kids can pick up on their parent’s emotions, so stay calm and positive during the dental visit. Reassure your child that the dentist is present to keep their teeth strong and healthy!
  7. Offer Praise and Rewards: Offering positive reinforcement or small rewards can be a great tool for good behavior. This can be a sticker or a small toy-something they may even receive in the office!
  8. Schedule Regular Check-Ups: Be sure to communicate that they will be coming back to see us again. Every six months is ideal to monitor your child’s oral health and address any concerns early on. 

What to Expect

Now that you know how to prepare for your child to see us for the first time, we can discuss what to expect at the actual appointment with one of our five incredible doctors: Dr. Rowland, Dr. Selecman, Dr. Daniel, Dr. Greene, or Dr. Church. This visit will obviously depend on what your child’s oral condition is, but it will usually go like this:

  1. Introduction: Our dental staff will take the time to greet you and your child with warmth to make sure they feel comfortable in our office. The hygienist or dentist may engage with your child to build a rapport and establish trust.
  2. Dental History: We will go over your child’s medical and dental history together, where you will have an opportunity to elaborate on your child’s oral hygiene habits, oral health concerns, and relevant history. 
  3. Oral Exam: One of our dentists will conduct a gentle examination of your child’s mouth, teeth, and gums. We’ll check for any sign of tooth decay, gum disease, or other dental issues. Some tools we might use are a dental mirror and explorer to look for cavities and plaque buildup.
  4. Cleaning and Polishing: Depending on your child’s age and cooperation, we can opt to perform a gentle cleaning and polishing of their teeth using special instruments and a prophy paste. This process helps remove plaque and tartar buildup and leaves their teeth feeling clean and smooth.
  5. Oral Hygiene Instruction: We will provide guidance on proper oral hygiene practices for your child, including brushing, flossing, and diet recommendations. Our doctors can demonstrate the proper techniques for your child and offer tips for making oral care more fun and engaging for your child.
  6. Discussion and Recommendation: We will discuss our findings with you and recommend any necessary treatments or follow-up appointments. If you have any additional questions, we’ll be happy to address them in the office.
How Can I Ensure a Positive First Dental Visit for My Child?

Getting a Headstart

There are so many benefits to having your child introduced to dentistry as early as possible in life, and the Children’s Dental Center is fully equipped to make their experience the best it can be. Whether they will return for routine appointments or need to be referred to an orthodontist or other specialist, you can count on our team to give you all the information you need. You can find us in Arlington, Collierville, or Midtown.