I have a special interest in children's dentistry and recommend taking the following steps before your first visit to the dentist:
Talk honestly with your child in a positive and easy tone about going to the dentist before your dental visit.
Bring your child to the dental appointment to familiarise with the sight and sounds of the office.
Let your child sit in the dental chair and see the instruments the dentist will use to examine their teeth.
Give the child an opportunity to ask questions and answer any questions as truthfully as possible.
Use clever fun words to de-mystify the examination process. For example, say teeth are getting "counted" rather than examined, or that teeth are being "tickled" when they are been checked, cleaned or polished. Needles are not the favourite thing of anyone, but "putting teeth asleep" will help to avoid any associated pain. This will prepare your child for the visit in a less scary and clinical manner.
Never tell your child that "it won't hurt" or "I had bad experience and hate dentists". While you do not want to create an association between going to the dentist and pain, you certainly do not want to mislead your child into thinking that there will not be same possibility for discomfort. Be truthful and don't gloss over that fact that some procedure may be uncomfortable.