I grew up in a family that view dental hygiene as a must. Despite my parents' meager salaries when we were still kids, they made sure that our dentists and us are friends.
So one of the first things I notice in a person, aside from the nose, is his/her teeth. Yep, I hate bad teeth. And I hate bad breath (though sometimes one cannot avoid having terrible breath especially after eating garlic and onion-laden food).
Now that I have a kid of my own, I make sure that the concept of a dentist for him (with an instrument to poke and probe his mouth) is something that is not scary. I'm glad he never ever got scared of the thought that he needs to have his teeth checked and cleaned regularly. Not once did he ever get scared of the word "DENTIST" unlike other kids who would scream and shake after just hearing that word. I think it helped too that my sister is one.
So how does one prepare a little angel with a visit to the dentist?
a. Even if your baby has no tooth yet, make sure to clean his/her gums and wipe the tongue clean. There's a certain toothbrush (though technically it's not a brush) that is used to massage a baby's gums. This way, the baby would feel that the mouth needs to be cleaned too;
b. Do not leave the milk bottle in your baby's mouth for a long time. Prolonged exposure to milk can cause the teeth to rot;
c. When your baby is bigger, one year old or so, introduce the concept of food, how important one's teeth are to enjoying food, how they should be taken care of, how one loses a tooth;
d. Try to have a visit with the dentist as early as one year old or when the first milk tooth appears. This way, the parents are reminded by the dentists about oral hygiene (because we tend to forget these things since we are already peppered with nappy and milk concerns).
e. Never ever use your dentist (or your doctor) as punishment when a kid does something wrong. Sometimes parents would tell kids (especially those with rotting teeth already), "Sige ka, pupunta tayo sa dentista!". Dentists are not monsters. Don't use them to scare away your kids since it will be more likely that your kids would not welcome visiting their dentist because they will associate it with punishment. If you can, use it as a treat: "If you do well, we'll have a visit to the dentist. The dentist has a cool chair and it will have something for your teeth." or something like that.
f. Lastly, be an example to your kid. You can sit on the dental chair together. That way, your kid can draw strength from you and you, from him/her. If you're scared of dentists, please don't show your kids that you are scared. If you do,there's a big possibility that they will hate going to the dentist too.