Updated 22 January 2018

A child’s first time at the dentist

Children should become accustomed to oral care from when they are babies and should visit the dentist regularly from early childhood to help them establish good dental habits.

Your child should be become accustomed to oral health care as early as possible.  This can be done by gently cleaning your baby’s gums each time after feeding with a damp cloth. 

Your child’s first visit to the dentist is an important part of growing up, and going to the dentist regularly is a very important part of establishing good dental habits.      

A child should be introduced to professional dental care before it is one year old to fix or prevent any problems. 

Read: Caring for your child's teeth

During this visit, the dentist:

- Will examine your child’s mouth, teeth and gums for tooth decay and other issues

- May take X-rays to find any hidden decay and establish if facial bones and teeth are developing properly

- May clean teeth and evaluate habits like thumb sucking

- Could teach you how to clean your child’s teeth at home  

- Will establish if your child needs fluoride, and may apply fluoride or prescribe fluoride drops or tablets

It is a good idea to take your child to the dentist in the morning when it is fresh and more inclined to cooperate. This is also least likely to interfere with the child’s routine. 

If the first dental appointment runs smoothly, no psychological resistance will be built up and your child will maintain a positive attitude toward dental health.  

Before your child’s first visit to the dentist:


- Bribe your child into going to the dentist

- Use dental visit as a punishment

- Let the child know that you feel any anxiety about going to the dentist

- Let anyone tell your child scary stories about dental visits


- Talk about the upcoming appointment  with the  child in a positive, matter-of-fact way

- Try to make dental visits enjoyable for your child

- Set  a good example by caring for your own teeth 

Read more: 

Oral care for babies and toddlers 

Kids must see dentist before emergencies arise 

Take care of your kids' teeth


Ask the Expert

Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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