Big Red Tooth – Dr Candice Schwartz

Where teeth and health meet

First dentist visit. What age should I bring my child to the dentist?

Many parents ask me when they should bring their child to the dentist for the first time. My response to this is always, whenever you see the first tooth grow out.

The reason I request to see children so early on is not to jump into their mouths and do a long examination. In order to prevent dental fears later on in life, a relationship with your dentist, based on trust and understanding is essential. It is easy to slowly nurture a bond with a child if I see them on a regular basis from an early age. You should be bringing your child to the dentist every 4-5 months, throughout their childhood. This good oral awareness will stay with them for the rest of their life.

Do not expect too much from the first dental visit. Encourage your child to be excited about this first experience at the dentist and always speak about the dentist in a positive light. You must ensure that you do not transfer your own fears onto your innocent child. I will never forget an experience I had early on in my career. A mom brought her young daughter to see me, she was 3 years old. The child walked into my surgery with confidence and a big smile on her face and jumped with enthusiasm into the dental chair. She was so excited to be at the dentist. As I was taking her back in the chair, her mother piped up “don’t be scared honey, the dentist is not going to hurt you”. All of a sudden the child’s entire attitude shifted. She was afraid and started crying and the entire appointment was downhill from there. The mother transferred her own negative expectations onto her child and ruined any chance of it being a positive experience.

Be very aware of the type of words and language you use. NEVER use negative nouns/adjectives like “pain, hurt, fear, scared, injection etc etc”. Be selective in your description of the dentist so the child is only expecting good, positive things.

Also be informed about which dentist you choose for your child. Phone the dentist rooms beforehand to find out if they are child friendly. Many dentists do not have the patience or interest in treating young children. Make sure you take your child to a pediatric dentist. It will make all the difference.

Another reason for bringing your child to the dentist from the time the first tooth enters the mouth, is actually for you, the parent. A pediatric dentist will take a lot of time and energy explaining preventive measure to you and teaching you about what to expect in the mouth and how to prevent cavities. Technology and ideas about prevention have changed a lot since you were a child. Educate yourself so you can give your child the greatest gift; the opportunity of having a healthy, cavity free mouth.

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