Taking your child to the dentist

Did you know that your child’s first dentist visit should be six months after their first tooth appears?

Dr Sarisha Govender said that although this can be difficult as the child is very young, her advice is that your child should have had their first dentist visit by the age of one.

“Children should visit the dentist every six months, this also helps them get used to the dental environment as well as someone looking into their mouths,” she said.

Dr Govender added that the dentist can also help educate parents and children regarding diet and brushing their teeth.

“Early childhood caries, also known as baby bottle tooth decay, is the most common dental disease in children.

“It usually occurs on the upper front teeth as brown/black spots.”

The primary cause is children drinking milk, formula or juice over long periods of time especially before bed.

“Parents often use the bottle as a pacifier before bed. This disease is preventable and it is important for parents to be well educated. This is also another reason for children requiring dental visits early in life as possible problems can be picked up early and also parents can be educated regarding this,” said Dr Govender.

She suggests that parents find a child friendly dentist.

“This is very important as ‘child friendly’ or paediatric dentists are better equipped in dealing with children and their different needs.

“Also, once again, book your child’s dental visits early and regularly, every six months, to ‘desensitise’ them.”

Another important factor to remember is to not instil the fear of the dentist into your child.

“Don’t speak about a bad dental experience in front of your child and also don’t use the dentist as a form of punishment.”

This creates a negative association prior to the dental visit already. Also if you as an adult are afraid of the dentist don’t bring your child in with you to your dental visit.

“I also find that children, whose parents explain the dental experience to their kids, cooperate better as they know what to expect.

“We, dentists, aren’t that bad, the more children we get to see, the more we can prevent oral health problems. It’s important for us all to remember that we are here to help, not to harm.”

  AUTHOR
Carmen Norton

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