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Dental tips for parents

  • Published
  • By 375th Dental Squadron
  • 375th Dental squadron
(Part two in a series of dental advice columns)

The first dental visit

The American Dental Association recommends parents take children to the dentist by the child's first birthday. You can take them to a pediatric dentist or your family dentist, if they see children. In addition to checking for decay and other possible problems, the dentist will teach you how to properly clean your child's teeth daily, evaluate any adverse habits such as thumb sucking, and identify your child's fluoride needs.

What to ask the dentist

If you don't understand the dentist's recommendations for your child's oral health treatment, don't be afraid to ask for more information. Ask if there are other treatment options available for your child. How do the options differ in cost? Which option will best solve the problem? Parents have the right to be carefully informed about the benefits and risks of any dental treatment for their children and to be involved in treatment decisions. You should feel comfortable that all your questions have been answered and that you understand the options before giving your consent to dental treatment.


Some difficult or complex dental procedures may require the dentist to administer medications to control your child's pain or anxiety. Ask the dentist what type of medication will be used and what possible side effects it may have; ask what follow-up care may be required for the child. You may also want to ask what procedures are in place for the child's safety, such as monitoring equipment and back-up emergency medical services.

What to tell your child

Children should know that the dentist is a friendly doctor who will help them take care of their teeth. Be positive and try to make dental visits an enjoyable experience for your child. Set a good example by properly cleaning your own teeth after each meal and visiting your dentist regularly. Attitudes and habits established at an early age are extremely critical in helping your child maintain good oral health throughout life.