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Parent’s guide: going to the dentist

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

Welcome to our all you need to know guide about your little one’s first visit to the dentist!

In this post, we will provide tips to make dentist visits a positive experience as well as ways to make these trips into amazing learning opportunities.

*Don’t worry if your little one has already visited the dentist – this guide can help you with the next one! *

Creating a good oral hygiene routine when your child is young is super important, this will ensure they will develop strong and healthy teeth.

Along with brushing twice a day, it’s recommended that you should take your little one to see a dentist every six months.

These visits should be positive events, rather than something your child fears so it’s vital to help your little one feel at ease when visiting the dentist.

Here at some tips to help you do that:

Before the visit

Before you talk to your little one about a dentist visit, consider your own feelings towards them.

This is because children can pick up on adults’ emotions quite easily so it’s important to not pass on your own anxieties to your child.

Explain to your little one the role of a dentist and all about how they help us keep our teeth healthy. Also, discuss the importance of having healthy gums and teeth with them.

During this, we recommend you discuss the process of the visit beforehand – they will sit on a big chair, open their mouth etc. you can share storybooks to help them better visualise this (click here for some recommendations).

But ensure all conversations are positive and avoid any words that can cause them additional anxiety like ‘fillings’ and ‘drill’.

Experts suggest that you start taking your child to the dentist as soon as their first tooth comes through (at around 6 months old) so that they can get used to the dentist's surgery.

But don’t worry if you haven’t done this yet, you could start by taking your little one to your own dental appointment so that they can get to know what to expect.

It’s natural if your child is nervous about the appointment, make sure they take their favourite toy along to reassure them.

Finally, prepare questions before your visit – it’s the best time to be reassured that your little one’s teeth are coming in okay, if you’re brushing their teeth correctly etc.

After the visit

Visiting the dentist can help inspire your child to learn more about other jobs and the community around them! Be sure to talk to them about other people who help us stay healthy and safe such as opticians, doctors, emergency services etc.

This is also a good opportunity to remind your little one that healthy eating will mean healthier teeth and explain why it’s best to avoid eating and drinking lots of sugary things.

Did you know

Your little one can benefit from going to the dentist in more ways than one! The visit can be a great learning opportunity and help in the following areas of development:

· Language and communication

The dentist visit is a great way to introduce new vocabulary, such as ‘jaws’, ‘surgery’, ‘appointment’ and more.

· Maths

Talking about the number of teeth your little one has is a great way to integrate math into the visit!

You can also discuss the concept of time – discuss that you made an appointment and how you need to arrive at a certain time.

· Social development

Appointments such as these are a great opportunity for children to interact with others – they may want to say hello or goodbye or help you make the next appointment.

But going to a new place can make your little one shy so don’t force them to speak to anyone if they’re not comfortable.

· Understanding the world

Going to the dentist will help your child better understand the different roles people take on in the community.

They will also be able to better understand their own hygiene – being able to discuss what teeth are used for, how to and why it’s important to look after them as well as the importance of other hygiene routines.

Want to find out more about looking after your little one’s teeth? Click here for our guide.

Resources for further information

Happy Kids Dental – Tips for your child’s first dentist visit

CBeebies video - My First Dentist

Oral B – When should children start going to the dentist

NHS – Taking care of children’s teeth

Stanford Children’s Health (USA) – First dentist visit factsheet

Kids Health – Dentist visits


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