How to Care for a Child's Teeth

By: Alvin Eden

Taking a Child to a Dentist

Your child may be initially afraid of the dentist, just as children usually fear strangers.
Your child may be initially afraid of the dentist, just as children usually fear strangers.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

You should begin taking your child to the dentist no later than by the age of two years. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a visit by the time your child is one year of age.

Usually all the primary teeth have erupted by the time your child is between two and three years of age. Most children three years of age or younger have no or few dental problems, and the first visit to the dentist can consist primarily of an examination and probably a cleaning.


Your dentist is often the best resource for finding a dentist for your child. If you live in a small town or a rural area, your dentist probably will be your child's dentist also. However, many dentists, especially those in cities and large suburban areas, prefer not to see child patients. Instead, they refer you to a pediatric dentist, or pedodontist, a dentist who has specialized in taking care of children. If you have no dentist or are new to an area, check with the local dental society about which dentists in the area treat children.

Most children fear strangers, and the dentist initially is a stranger to your child. You can help your child to understand the dentist is another friend by your attitude as you approach the first and successive dental visits. If you are relaxed and matter-of-fact about going to the dentist, your child will be also.

However, if you begin to show signs of fear and tension (such as clutching your child's hand tightly), these fears will be transferred to your child. Avoid situations in which your child hears you or someone else talking about painful details of dental procedures. Your child will not require such procedures for many years, if ever; hearing about them can result in unnecessary fears and apprehension.

Also, never threaten your child with a visit to the dentist or any other health care professional. Be honest with your child if he asks about procedures or pain. Some procedures may be uncomfortable and your child needs to know this, but only if he asks ahead of time. If you are unsure of an answer, tell your child he can ask the dentist about it. Remember also that even painful procedures can be made painless with anesthesia; you or your dentist can tell your child this if he is concerned about pain.

Though your child's baby teeth will eventually fall out, it is important to take care of them until they grow out. Also, instilling good dental-care habits at a young age can encourage excellent oral hygiene as an adult.

To learn more information about caring for your child, visit the links below.

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About the Consultant:

Alvin Eden, M.D.: Alvin Eden, M.D. serves as a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Weil Medical College of Cornell University in New York, New York. He is Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn. Dr. Eden is also the author of a number of child care book, including Positive Parenting and Growing Up Thin.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

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