Your Child's First Visit

According to AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) guidelines, infants should initially visit the pediatric dentist around the time of their first birthday.  First visits can be stressful for parents, especially for parents who have dental phobias themselves.

It is imperative for parents to continually communicate positive messages about dental visits (especially the first one), and to help the child feel as happy as possible about visiting the dentist.

How can I prepare for my child’s first dental visit?

Pediatric dentists are required to undergo extensive training in child psychology.  Their dental offices are generally colorful, child-friendly, and boast a selection of games, toys, and educational tools.  Pediatric dentists (and all dental staff) aim to make the child feel as welcome as possible during all visits.

There are several things parents can do to make the first visit enjoyable.  Some helpful tips are listed below:

Take another adult along for the visit – Sometimes infants become fussy when having their mouths examined.  Having another adult along to soothe the infant allows the parent to ask questions and to attend to any advice the dentist may have.

Leave other children at home – Other children can distract the parent and cause the infant to fuss.  Leaving other children at home (when possible) makes the first visit less stressful for all concerned.

Avoid threatening language – Our team-members are trained to avoid the use of threatening language like “drills,” “needles,” “injections,” and “bleeding.”  It is imperative for parents to use positive language when speaking about dental treatment with their child as well. Please refrain from telling them your past dental experiences that may have been less than stellar. 

Provide positive explanations – It is important to explain the purposes of the dental visit in a positive way.  Explaining that the dentist “helps keep teeth healthy” is far better than explaining that the dentist “is checking for tooth decay and might have to drill the tooth if decay is found.” 

Explain what will happen – Anxiety can be vastly reduced if the child knows what to expect.  Age-appropriate books about visiting the dentist can be very helpful in making the visit seem fun. Here is a list of parent and dentist-approved books:

  • The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist – by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
  • Show Me Your Smile: A Visit to the Dentist – Part of the “Dora the Explorer” Series.
  • Going to the Dentist – by Anne Civardi.
  • Elmo Visits the Dentist – Part of the “Sesame Street” Series.

What will happen during my child's first visit a.k.a "Fun Visit" at Hagerstown Smiles

We understand that your child may be scared during their first visit to our office, therefore we allow them to control the appointment to an extent. You may hear us refer to your child's first visit as a "fun visit" because we want it to be exactly that-FUN! 

There are several goals for the first dental visit:  

First, the dentist/dental hygienist and the child need to get properly acquainted. Your child will then be taken on a "chair ride", and introduced to all of the items needed during a successful preventative maintenance visit. If your little guy or gal is comfortable, we will proceed with their very first preventative maintenance appointment (pictures are welcomed). Next, you will be provided with any recommendations on home care and diet. Finally, if they are cavity-free they will have their picture taken to be proudly displayed on our "No Cavity Club" board and given a special goody bag! 

We have several great pediatric dentists in the area that we work closely with should we need to refer your child to a specialty office.


If you have questions or concerns about your child’s first dental visit, please contact our office.

Contact Us. We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.