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Preparing Your Child For Their First Visit

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Going to the dentist for the first time can be scary for a child. My 3 1/2 year old just had her first official appointment. She has been with my husband and me every 6 months since her first birthday and would watch and sit in the chair, but has never let the dentist actually look in her mouth. However, taking her with us had prepared her for her first official visit and helped make it a great experience. What else can you do to help prepare your child?

  • 1. Set a good example. Children learn from what you do, not what you say. Invite them into the bathroom with you when you brush and floss. Open up your mouth and let them count your teeth. Making oral care a part of your daily routine so they are comfortable caring for their own teeth.
  • 2. Be encouraging. Allow your child to talk about anything that scares him or her about the dentist. Help your child feel secure by assuring him or her that you will be present during the appointment. Let them choose a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or blanket to take for extra security.
  • 3. Get some books about visiting the dentist. Some favorites are Doctor DeSoto by William Steig and Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer. A fun way to get kids comfortable is to play “dentist,” using props like tooth- brushes, flashlights and cups for rinsing, and invite all their stuffed animals for a checkup, where your child can practice being the patient, the dentist and the parent.
  • 4. Choose the right appointment time. Take your child to the dentist at a time of day when he or she is alert and in a good mood. Scheduling an appointment shortly after nap or a meal time is usually best.

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