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February 26th, 2015

From the desk of Dr. Fass

We are often asked, “When should I bring my child in for the first visit?” The answer may vary according to the circumstances. In general, your child should be seen by the age of 2. If there is some suspected problem due to trauma or development problems, this may be by age 1 or even earlier.

It is very helpful for the first contact with the dentist to be in a controlled setting, that is before there is any need for treatment. This way the child can be made to realize that this is a different experience than the physician or the hospital. Often you might bring the child with you for your appointment, just to get familiar with the office.
Check with your dentist and the office staff to find out how they like to handle children in the practice. Most children will do well in a family practice, but some children might be well served seeing a pediatric dentist for treatment at an early age. You know your child best and you need to communicate any concerns to the dental team.
It’s important that you not convey any of your fears or bad experiences to your child. It is unfortunate that so many have had less than ideal contacts, but this not need to become your child’s problem. In fact, the less said the better. An innocent statement to a child such as, “This won’t hurt.” might start them questioning why you would say that at all. Do you tell your child before taking them to their first party or the first day of school that it won’t hurt? Or so you simply tell them it is something different and fun? That’s a much better approach and one that can be used here as well.
While you’re at it, don’t try to give your child any more information than they ask for. Sometimes older siblings will fill in more blanks than we might like as well. Caution them not to tell any stories (sometimes they make up some great ones) that might scare their younger brother or sister. First visits should be an easy and pleasant experience for your child and will help set a framework for a lifetime of good dental experiences.

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