Tips For Teaching Kids About Their First Dental Cleaning

Posted on: 29 September 2020

A young child who is anticipating their first dental cleaning may have lots of questions. Listen to them attentively and address all their concerns. Also, be prepared to offer them advice about their behavior and attitude at the dentist's office. Walk children through the process of what will happen if they want to know what they should expect during the visit.

Explain That a Nice Person Will Look at Their Teeth and Gums

Every child who goes to the dentist for a cleaning will likely have a gum health assessment. If a child is very young, you might just explain that a nice person will come in and look at their teeth and gums. Explain that the dental hygienist is a friend and wants to help them take great care of their teeth. Let the child know that this is a good opportunity for them to ask questions they may have about brushing their teeth and flossing.

Tell Your Children That Their Teeth Will Then Get Cleaned

The dental hygienist will then clean and scrape their teeth. This is called prophylaxis, but you can just use the term "cleaning" if the child is very young. Explain that tools are used to get all the tartar and other debris from their teeth and gums.

Prepare Them for Advice from the Dentist

After your child's teeth are cleaned and polished, the dentist might offer them advice for how to better care for their teeth. Just like children are welcome to ask the dental hygienist questions, they can also ask their dentist any questions they have about dental care. It can be helpful for the dentist to reinforce lessons that you've given your children about teeth brushing and flossing.

Help Build Positive Anticipation with Themed Books

Dozens and dozens of children's book have been written about brushing teeth, oral health care, and dentist visits. Pick up a couple of books about teeth cleaning to read to your children before they go to have their teeth cleaned. Then sit down and read the books together. Point out specific things in the book that your child may find especially helpful during the upcoming appointment.

Some books about that first dental cleaning include:

  • "My First Visit to the Dentist" by Eve Marleau
  • "Just Going to the Dentist" by Mercer Mayer
  • "Doctor De Soto" by William Steig

These books may inspire some further discussions about what going to the dentist is all about, and they can help normalize the whole experience for your child. That way, it will seem more familiar and fun when it's time for their visit.

Finally, the Mayo Clinic recommends scheduling your child's dental visit for a time when they will be well-rested. A first dental cleaning can be a fun adventure for kids if it's presented in the right way. Do some research and make sure you choose a pediatric dentist in your area, like Dentistry For Children & Adolescents, that your child will be comfortable with and will provide the best experience possible.