Toddlers and the dentist

Dr Alistair Graham

Dr Alistair Graham

As a Dentist and also a Father of 2 young children, I am regularly quizzed about Children’s teeth and visiting the Dentist so I wanted to put together some answers to questions that I am most often asked. I hope this is of help to you.

When should I start bringing my child to the Dentist?
This differs depending on the child, but as a general rule 3 years is a good time. By this age they should have all of their first teeth, and will understand what is going on and be interested in the visit.

Why so early?
There are a few reasons for this. By bringing them in at this age, they can start to get used to the Dental environment and understand that is it not something to be afraid of, and instead have fun by having a ride in the chair and have their teeth counted. Also the first teeth are different to adult teeth -more porous, so decay can spread rapidly through them. For this reason we also recommend that they come in every 6 months so we can spot problems before they have the chance to become painful.

What are you going to do?
At their first few visits they have a ride in the chair (with or without Mum or Dad!), have their teeth counted and checked. Once they get used to the visits and they feel happier we clean their teeth and apply a fluoride treatment.

Is there anything I can do before bringing them in?
Mum and Dad preparing them before their first visit is really important. Firstly, explain how it is a fun visit and try not to talk about the Dentist ‘hurting’, or how they will get the drill if they don’t clean their teeth!! You can try to get them to show off how clean their teeth are to the Dentist, and how they will have all their teeth counted. There are some great books with familiar characters such as Maisy or Peppa Pig going to the Dentist, and these are useful to explain what will happen.

If they lose their baby teeth anyway, why worry?
A frequently asked question! Problems with first teeth such as decay and abscesses are extremely painful and distressing for children and their treatment is not simple. Problems with first teeth can damage the developing teeth underneath and can result in weaker adult teeth. Finally, the first teeth help guide the adult teeth into position, so it’s best to do everything we can to look after first teeth.

As a member of the Australasian Society of Paediatric Dentists, I’d be happy to answer any questions that you have regarding this important subject, so please feel free to get in contact.

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