Daughter's First Dental Appointment

Updated on August 23, 2014
J.K. asks from Los Angeles, CA
20 answers

At my daughter's 2 year well baby visit with her doctor, it was suggested that my daughter see a dentist (not because she had obvious dental problems, but because it's just time, I guess...). I just scheduled an appointment with a pediatric dentist for an exam and cleaning next week, but afraid that my daughter won't handle the situation well. She's apprehensive with strangers, especially strangers who engage in poking and prodding. She had a crying fit when her doctor tried to look in her ears so I'm sure she'll be the same when the dentist tries to look in her mouth/clean her teeth. Do most kids see the dentist for the first time at age of 2? If it's okay to wait, I would feel more comfortable waiting. Wondering if I should cancel the appointment.

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So What Happened?

My daughter has all of her teeth, except one. I brush her teeth then wipe down her teeth with a wet wash cloth using my finger to get whatever the toothbrush may have missed two times a day. But I don't use toothpaste, I just wet the toothbrush with water. I feel weird about that because she eats the same things I eat and I use toothpaste when I brush my teeth.

I spoke to the receptionist who told us that if my daughter is compliant, her teeth will be cleaned by a dental hygienist. At the very least, I plan to have her examined (even if her teeth aren't cleaned) so that I can build a relationship with the dentist and ask him some questions and make sure I'm taking care of her teeth the way I should.

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answers from New York on

It's something that she has to do - now and forever - so you may as well prep her for it and make the most of it. She'll get used to it. Try to make it seem like fun! Let her bring her favorite stuffed animal to hold. Good luck!

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answers from Houston on

I am a dental hygienist, and what they will do at this age is termed a "happy visit" Often they won't even charge you for this. It is mainly to address any concerns you may have, get advice on cleaning teeth and maybe if they are very compliant do some gentle polishing with a nice flavored polish. Then some fluoride varnish. It is to get the child used to going, being there, and keeping their mouth open.

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answers from Seattle on

With our first, we started at 2yo. It was primarily to get the kiddo used to going to the dentist. The dentist counted her teeth and was pretty gentle overall. I'm not sure she even had a cleaning.

The appointment is also used so the ped dentist can touch base with the caregiver to make sure that proper tooth care is taking place. Because our dentist knew what we were doing with our first, she recommended our second kiddo start at 3yo, not 2yo.

My kids both love going to the dentist. They get a new toothbrush, flossers, toothpaste and a small toy from the treasure box. It's like Christmas.

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answers from New York on

We went, at 2. It was cursory. The dentist had him open his mouth, introduced the mirror, and "counted" his teeth. He also watched us with our regular check ups. My kid was fine with it at 2.

F. B.

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answers from Kansas City on

I can't remember if we started at 2 or 3, but either way, yes she's about the right age.

I think it's good that you chose a pediatric dentist, especially if she has some anxiety. I think I would just start prepping her for it. Just tell her she's going to the dentist and this is what the dentist does, and let's practice and mommy will pretend to the be the dentist, etc.

My daughter used to get a bit nervous (although maybe not quite to the extreme of yours I'm afraid) and this really helped her. In fact the hygienist after my daughter's first visit said wow I can tell you prepped her because she's the best first patient I've ever had! :)

Whatever happens the dentist has probably seen it and will be expecting it to a certain degree. I would go ahead and keep the appointment so she can start getting used to it…and if you were ever to have a dental emergency it's better that she gets introduced to the idea now.

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answers from San Francisco on

Both of my kids started going to the dentist at 2. Don't worry, nobody goes into this imagining that their kids will handle it well. :) Just make sure that you put a happy face on it for your daughter. Say things like, "Going to the dentist is fun! I love to go and have my teeth cleaned, and you'll love it, too!" (Even if you haaaate going to the dentist, don't let on to your child!) She will be fine. Both of my girls adore the dentist.

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answers from Iowa City on

My daughter went just before age 2. I talked it up to her for about 2 weeks before the appointment every time we brushed her teeth. At the dentist, she got to ride in the chair, got her teeth counted, a quick clean (picking the paste flavor took longer than the clean). She was about done at that point, so I broke out the camera (we'll show daddy!) to get the flouride treatment. 5 minutes start to finish. Then she got to pick a toy.
If she had wanted to stop at any time we would have stopped. So I recommend at least trying. They have to start some time - best of luck to you!

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answers from New York on

Does she have lots of teeth yet? If so, definitely. My son had his 1st dental appointment at 2years because he had lots of teeth and one tooth is overlap.

However, if her teeth is nicely spaced, looks fine, and you're brushing, then you are totally fine to wait.

Also, lots of pediatric dentists these days are fantastic at dealing with young kids who do not like strangers or dentist poking into their mouths. You'll be amazed at the tricks they have up their sleeves to ease your daughter,

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answers from Dallas on

Yes, most do start around 2.

I had my daughter going with me to the dentist for my regular cleanings and the dentist would "check" her mouth. She went with me for cleanings from birth until about 18 months..

Around 18 months, I took her to a pediatric dentist and everything went smoothly. I think what helped was that the sounds, surrounding was not something strange to her.

Pediatric dentists and their assistants are trained for children. I will note... MOST of the offices around here will have the assistant come into the waiting room to say hi and meet parent and child. They explain to parent what they will do and give the child a special nametag and then escort the child to the dental area. Ours has a separate area where children could play as well just to get to know the staff and get a feel for the dental room. THEN, after all is said and done, the parent is called into a conference area, given a report of what they did, what may be needed, etc while the child is choosing a special prize from the prize box.

Some parents are gung ho on going in with the child and sometimes this increases the child's anxiety because they pick up the parent's anxiety.

I would not cancel the apt because:

#1 you need to protect her oral health which is very important and bad oral health leads to other health issues. This is a pay me now or pay me later situation... no solid reason to put it off.
#2 she needs to get in the routine of Dr.'s and nurses and the experience alone, even if not 100% successful on the first try (not all 1st tries are a success). If needed, buy a book about the dentist, toy dental tools or something and you start checking her mouth and "playing dentist" with her.

ETA: At age 4 while in preschool, my daughter started losing her teeth. I was glad that I had a relationship with her dentist at the time. By the age of 10 she had lost all of the teeth she was supposed to lose and got her 12 yr molars. Fortunately, she has a perfect set of teeth, no cavities, we got sealants when suggested, and no orthodontics were ever needed. Last year at age 18 she got all 3 wisdom teeth out and had no issues.

Bottom line is that it is up to you but when it comes to health and safety, I don't budge... they are priority in this house.

Good luck

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answers from Dallas on

At two years old the pediatric dentist will likely just be getting your DD used to the dentist and the whole experience, and not doing any real exam. I think you could skip it if you feel like it will be a big problem, but they really go out of their way to make sure the little ones think going to the dentist is like going to an amusement park.

My two year old walked away with a toy and a balloon and watched Cars for the first time on a TV built into the ceiling. He loved the dentist (and still doesn't like the doctor at all).

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answers from Norfolk on

I talked it over with my dentist and he said unless there were any obvious problems I didn't need to bring our son in till he began losing his baby teeth.
His first appointment was when he was about 5 yrs old.
The dentist had him in when I was getting my exam and he showed our son what he was doing with me and let him try a few controls on the chair.
He wasn't afraid at all and then he liked to play dentist at home.
For his first appointment I sat in the room with him and all was fine.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Most see the dentist as soon as their teeth start coming in. I'm glad you found a pediatric dentist. They are specialist in baby teeth. I love our in OKC.

They are also very good at getting little ones to do what they want. It sounds like you're more apprehensive than she is....our pediatric dentist takes the whole family back if they want to go. We do both kids at the same time so we all go. They switch out back and forth and get it all done.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Age 2? That seems crazy. None of our kids or friends' kids went until
the age of 5 for their very first dental appointment.
I'd cancel it esp if she doesn't have any obvious dental problems.
I feel like the dentists are trying to obtain more money from us.
I know I didn't like the dentist when I started at an older age of 5, I am
pretty sure I wouldn't have been a very good patient at the age of 2.



answers from Pittsburgh on

We started each child when he turned 3, which was what our family dentist recommended.



answers from San Francisco on

I started taking mine at 3. 2 does seem a bit young. You should practice with her - tell her this is what the dentist is going to do and have her open her mouth and you poke around in there a bit. Just so she knows what to expect. The less she knows, the more scared she will be. Just prep her.


answers from Grand Forks on

At two my kids just came to the dentist with me when I went for my appointments. They would watch me get my cleaning and check up, then the dentist would give them a ride in the chair and take a quick peek to make sure everything looked ok. They didn't start going for cleanings until they were three. They didn't go to a pediatric dentist, just to my dentist.



answers from St. Louis on

Pediatric dentists start that early but regular family dentists usually start around 3. Even at that, I have found several other dentists that say you do not need to bring the kids in until around 4 when they actually need a cleaning. If you think she won't handle it well, I'd give it another six months and reschedule.



answers from Wausau on

By the time kids are school aged, some have serious dental problems that could have been prevented or treated early. That is why it is suggested that kids go at age 2-3. It is simply proper healthcare.

In re: to Micky's comment - I've volunteered with a free dental program that goes into the schools to do visual checkups and offer free sealants. I was shocked at how many 2nd graders had tooth problems that were obvious just by looking with your eyes. Those kids got a note sent home offering full exams for free and discounted services. It is not about the money.



answers from Los Angeles on

My dentist had my DD (at 2) watch as she cleaned my teeth so my DD could see it doesn't hurt. We went to the dentist the day before DD's appointment to meet the dentist and staff and went 10 minutes early to her appointment. The dentist let my DD play with some of the equipment and watch in a mirror while the dentist checked her teeth. We didn't get X-rays until she was closer to 4.

There is "training" toothpaste that is safe if swallowed. It's a great way to teach your child how to brush and will prepare her for using fluoride toothpaste later.

Good luck!


answers from San Francisco on

Mine went at around two and a half. I just took them to the same dentist my husband and I went to. The first visit is really fun and mellow and the "cleaning" isn't much at all, certainly not like an adult cleaning. I'm sure you could wait another six months or so, just so she better understands what's going on.

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