A Child's First Dental Visit Fact Sheet
Prepare your child
Prepare the dentist
- 10 to 24 months. Some securely attached children may experience developmental separation and become upset when taken from their parents for an exam.
- 2 to 3 years. A securely attached child may be able to cope with a brief separation from parents. In a 2-year-old, "no" may be a common response.
- 3 years. Three-year-olds should not be expected to accept separation from their parents for restoration treatment procedures, such as getting a cavity filled. This is because most 3-year-olds are not socially mature enough to separate from parents.
- 4 years. Most children should be able to sit separately from parents for exams and treatment procedures.
The first visit
The second visit
Like adults, children should see the dentist every six months. Some dentists may schedule more frequent visits, every three months, to build comfort and confidence in the child, or to monitor a development problem.
Protect your children's teeth at home
- Before teeth erupt, clean gums with a clean, damp cloth.
- Brush teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush. Introduce a pea-sized dab of fluoridated toothpaste after 2 years of age, once the child is old enough to spit out the toothpaste after brushing.
- Prevent baby bottle tooth decay: Don't give children a bottle of milk, juice or sweetened liquid at bedtime or when put down to nap.
- Limit the time your child has a bottle. Your child should empty a bottle in 5 to 6 minutes or less.
- Help your child brush his or her own teeth until 6 years of age. Allow the child to watch you brush, and follow the same brushing pattern to minimize missed spots.
- Avoid foods and treats that increase tooth decay: hard or sticky candies, fruit leather, and sweetened drinks and juice. Offer fruit rather than juice; the fiber in fruit tends to scrape the teeth clean, whereas juice just exposes the teeth to sugar.
08-10-09 Montreal Children's Hospital - SW