Child Dentistry

Your child’s first Visit:

Healthy teeth are important to your child's overall health.  From the time your child is born, there are things you can do to promote healthy teeth. For babies, you should clean teeth with a soft, clean cloth or baby's toothbrush. Avoid putting the baby to bed with a bottle and check teeth regularly for spots or stains.

When should you take your child to the dentist for their 1st visit ?

All children are different, but ideally the first “regular” dental visit/examination should be your around the age of three.

This visit should only be an introduction to the dentist and should ideally be a pleasant experience, as not to frighten the child for future visits. During this visit, the dentist will allow your child to sit on the dental chair or the parent may be asked to sit in the chair and hold their child during the examination.  The parent may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist.

All the applicable instruments will be shown and explained.  A  check- up with a dental mirror and probe will be done and if your child co-operates the dentist may continue with polishing teeth, administering fluoride and taking diagnostic x-rays.  We will also make sure that your child is receiving adequate fluoride at home.   Most important of all, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth.

It is advisable not to do any fillings or extractions on the very first visit, as this may traumatize and possibly instil a fear of dentists in future, therefore, we recommend you do not wait for a dental problem to arise before bringing your child for their first visit to the dentist .

Children should ideally have a dental examination once every six months, so that any decay or other condition can be diagnosed at an early stage.
We therefore suggest that you bring the little one in earlier on and rather expose them to a non-threatening experience, as opposed to bringing them in when they have pain!

What should I tell my child about the first visit ?

We suggest that you prepare your child the same way that you would before their first hair cut or trip to the shoe store. 

1st Visit Tips:
  • Tell them a positive story about visiting the dentist.
  • Talk about your positive experiences at the dentist.
  • Explain to them what the dentist will be doing at their 1st visit.

 During their 1st visit the dentist will:

  • Examine your child’s mouth, teeth and gums.
  • Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking.
  • Check to see if your child needs fluoride.
  • Teach you about cleaning and caring for your child’s teeth.
  • Review your child’s dental requirements and suggest a schedule for regular dental/oral hygiene visits.

What about preventative care ?

For all children, you should

  • Brush teeth with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Provide nutritious foods and limit sweet snacks and drinks.
  • Provide low-fat milk and dairy products high in calcium.
  • Avoid sticky foods.
  • Schedule regular dental/oral hygiene check-ups.
  • Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.

Forming good habits at a young age can help your child have healthy teeth for life.

How can I best care for my child's teeth?

Good dental hygiene habits should begin before your child's first tooth comes in. Wiping your baby's gums with a soft damp cloth after feedings helps to prevent the build-up of bacteria. When teeth appear, start using a soft children's toothbrush twice a day.

Once your child is preschool-age, start using fluoride toothpaste. Don't cover the brush with toothpaste; a pea-sized amount is just right (see picture above). Young children tend to swallow most of the toothpaste, and swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause permanent stains on their teeth.

What about using fluoride tablets?

Fluoride helps make teeth strong by hardening the tooth enamel.  Many cities are required to add fluoride to tap water.  If you live in an area where the tap water doesn't contain fluoride, your dentist  may prescribe daily fluoride tablets when your child is about 6 months old. Fluoride is an important part of your child's dental health, but don't give him or her more than the directions call for.  If you miss a dose, don't give your child extra fluoride to make up. Just as with swallowed toothpaste, too much oral fluoride can cause stains on your child's teeth.

What are cavities?

Cavities are holes that are formed when bacteria (germs) in your mouth use the sugar in food to make acid. This acid eats away at the teeth. Cavities are common in children. Good tooth care can keep cavities from happening in your child.

Is my child at risk for cavities?

Your child might be at risk for cavities if he or she eats a lot of sugary foods (such as raisins, cookies and candy) and drinks a lot of sweet liquids (such as fruit juice and punch, soda and sweetened drinks). Your child also might be at risk if he or she has any of the following risk factors:

  • Was born early (prematurely) or weighed very little at birth (low birth weight).
  • Has ongoing special health care needs.
  • Has white spots or brown areas on any teeth.
  • Does not go to the dentist very often.

How can I help stop cavities?

Everyone in your family should take good care of their teeth. Family members with lots of cavities can pass the cavity-causing bacteria to babies and children.

Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day and adults should floss once a day. Everyone should see the dentist twice a year. Have your doctor or dentist show you the right way to brush your child's teeth.

Baby bottles can create additional problems with your child's dental health. When liquid from a bottle--like milk and juice--stays in contact with the teeth for a long time, the sugars cause tooth decay. This can create a condition called bottle mouth. Your baby's teeth can develop cavities and become pitted or discolored.  Never put a baby to bed with a bottle. Don't let your child walk around during the day with a bottle, and teach your child to use a drinking cup around his or her first birthday.

Is thumb-sucking bad for my child?

It's normal for children to suck their thumbs, their fingers or a pacifier. Most children give up this habit on their own by age 4, with no harm done to their teeth. If your child still has a sucking habit after age 4, tell your dentist. Your dentist can watch carefully for any problems as the teeth develop. In most children there is no reason to worry about a sucking habit until around age 6, when the permanent front teeth come in.