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Preparing your child for the dental visit

Introduce your child to the dental environment early. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that every child establish a dental home and visit a dentist by their first birthday. The earlier the visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems.
Give your child the best care by choosing a pediatric dental practice. Pediatric dentists have two to three years of specialized training beyond dental school in treating children.
Select an appointment time when your child is alert and rested. Small children often do best during morning appointments instead of late in the evening.
You, as the parent, play a key role in your child’s dental care. Children often perceive a parent’s anxiety which makes them more fearful. Children tolerate procedures best when their parents understand what to expect and prepare them for the experience. If you have any questions about the appointment, please ask. As you become more confident, so will your child.
For small children who may not understand the concept of dentistry, try to keep the discussion simple. Simply explain before the visit that the dentist is a friend and will help them keep their teeth healthy. Add that the visit will be fun. Sometimes to much explanation can leave the child feeling doubtful and nervous.
Answer all your child’s questions positively. (Keep an ear out for scary stories from peers and siblings.)
Be cautious about using scary words like: “ hurt, shot, poke or pull”. Typically the first visits do not have anything to do with “hurt,” so do not even use the word! Putting your child in a state of fear may result in uncooperative behavior which can limit options for treatment.
Read your child a story about a character that had a good dental visit.
Make a list of your questions about your child’s oral health in advance. This could include such topics as home care, injury prevention, diet and snacking, fluoride and tooth development.
Give your child some control over the dental visit. Such choices as “Will you hold your bear or should I?” or “Which color toothbrush do you like?” will make the visit more enjoyable.


Frequent ingestion of sugars and other carbohydrates (eg, fruit juices, acidic beverages) and prolonged contact of these substances with teeth are particular risk factors in the
development of cavities.

When thirsty, encourage your child to drink water and limit the consumption of juice. Small children who regularly drink juice should drink from a cup (ie, not a bottle or sippy cup) and at the time of a meal or snack. Night time bottle feeding with juice, repeated use of a sippy or no-spill cup, and frequent in between meal consumption of sugar containing snacks or drinks (eg, juice, formula, soda) increase the risk of caries. It is not so much the amount of sugar but the frequency and exposure to sugar that has been shown to cause cavities.

Get your child to the dentist early. Dental Cavities can begin soon after tooth eruption, developing on smooth surfaces and have a lasting detrimental impact on the dentition. Caries and its sequelae are among the most prevalent health problems facing American infants, children, and adolescents.

Oral Hygiene

Brushing begins at infancy. Do not wait until your child has all their teeth to begin brushing.

The academy of Pediatric dentistry recommends using no more than a ‘smear’ or ‘rice-size’ amount of fluori-dated toothpaste for children less than three years of age and no more than a ‘pea-size’ amount of fluoridated toothpaste is appropriate for children aged three to six.

Figure 1

Comparison of a smear (left) with a pea-sized (right) amount of toothpaste.

Around seventy percent of all cavities detected are located in between teeth. For that reason flossing is recommended, especially for areas that have closed or tight contacts.

Some parents ask about proper tooth bushing technique. Below you will find a video for older kids demonstrating a great technique to clean near the gum line. Younger children should be instructed to brush in small circles while still concentrating the toothbrush at a slight angle in the direction of the gum line.