How to Prepare Your Child for Their First Dental Appointment

By: Jonathan Campbell
How to prepare your child for their first dental appointment

Whether your toddler just recently sprouted their first tooth or celebrated their first birthday, these are both major events that warrant another very special milestone in your little one’s life: the first visit to the dentist.

With that being said, there are several ways in which parents can and should prepare their toddlers for their very first trip to the dentist in order to help ensure the visit goes as smoothly as possible.

A child’s first impression of the dentist and dental office should be a positive one, as this initial visit will set the tone for all of the subsequent dental visits to come. It will also shape the overall sentiment that your child will develop about oral health care in general.

So, with that said, here are five tips that every parent should follow to properly prepare their child for their very first trip to the dental office:

1. Choose a trusted dentist limited to kids


Your little one deserves to have their first dental care experience with a team of professionals that know exactly how to deal with their age group. Luckily for parents and children living around Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph, our children’s only dentist and team at SmileTown – Just Kids Dentistry have the compassion, care, and expertise necessary to ensure your little one’s visit is as positive and pleasant as a first visit can be.

2. Schedule the appointment with your toddler in mind

It’s best to arrange your baby’s first dental appointment at a time when they will be the least finicky, and ensure they get a proper amount of sleep and food before your arrival. It’s also a good idea to complete any medical history forms in advance, so you can spend less time waiting with your child in the office.
If there’s anything else you can take care of prior to the visit, including calling your dental insurance provider to verify your coverage and sort out payment arrangements, it’s always wise to do it ahead of time.

3. Prepare your child for their visit beforehand

There should ideally never be any surprises during your child’s first dental visit. Thus, it’s beneficial to educate your child about dental visits before the day of their appointment. Sit with your child and explain what they can expect to happen during their visit.

Use a colourful book, pamphlet, or online video to demonstrate to your child about what to expect at the dentist in a way that is clear and easy for them to understand, and to help them visualise the situation beforehand. 

The SmileTown website is also a great resource, offering a virtual tour of the office alongside slideshows that allow the kids to get a clear picture of the office before their visit.

Communication is key as always, so ask your child if they have any questions about their upcoming visit, and do your best to assure them that there’s nothing to worry about.

4. Keep a positive and healthy attitude

Young children pick up on everything, so it’s extremely important to convey a positive attitude when speaking about your child’s upcoming dental visit. Encourage your child to feel excited and comfortable about the visit by using positive language and lots of smiles.

If you get a sense that your child is feeling nervous or uneasy about their appointment, bring along their favourite plush toy or stuffed animal that they can hold on to for comfort and companionship.

If you’re still finding it challenging to assure your child and ease their dental anxiety or phobia, there are other ways you can help them to feel safe. For example, provide happy distractions, offer rewards or treats, or speak with our dentist limited to kids about other methods of soothing.

5. Work with our children’s only dentist to make the visit fun

Not only should your child’s first visit to the dentist ideally be an overall stress-free and pleasant experience, but it should also be fun for your little one, too! When you choose a professional like our children’s only dentist in Waterloo to look after your little one, you can rest assured you’re choosing an experience that will be memorable in the best way possible.

Our colourful office is equipped with all child-friendly technology and toys, interactive play areas, and entertaining kids shows, for example, that will help make your baby’s visit one that’s full of excitement.

What Parents Can Expect at Their Toddler’s First Dental Appointment

During your child’s first dental visit, they may either sit directly in our dental chair or are also free to sit in your lap. During the check-up portion of the visit, our dentist will assess your child’s teeth, gums, and bite to check for any early warning signs that may indicate improper development, tooth decay, or other problems.

When it comes to the cleaning portion, our dentist or hygienist will gently and thoroughly clean your child’s teeth. We will also provide you with education on how to properly care for your toddler’s teeth and gums, including going over the proper cleaning tools and techniques to use. We’ll also answer any questions you may have.



Start Your Child’s Oral Health Journey Positively


Is it finally time to schedule your little one’s very first dental appointment? Or, are you on the search for a new children’s only dental clinic in the Waterloo area? If so, our dentist and team would be thrilled to meet you, as we’re always welcoming new patients with no referral necessary.

To book an appointment with an experienced dentist, call SmileTown at 226-773-1663 in Cambridge and Waterloo, or 519-822-2273 in Guelph, or contact us here.