Always be you, unless you can be a pirate or a fairy. Then always be a pirate or a fairy!

Back view of child dental patient facing colored lights

Your child’s first dental visit

Our wonderful team at The Paediatric Dental Practice are experienced in providing the highest standard dental care to children, from babies to adolescents.

While we believe it’s important for your little one to start seeing the dentist early on, we want to make your child’s first dental visit – whatever their age – a fun and positive experience.

What age should a child go to the dentist?

The Australian Dental Association recommends that a child’s first dental visit should occur within six months of their first tooth appearing, and no later than their first birthday.



“We like to see children for their first visit in this recommended period,” says our specialist paediatric dentist Dr Michael Chong. “Although your child may not have many teeth yet, there are other things to check – from subtle tooth enamel defects (which may indicate future decay risk) through to looking at gums and tissue (which may affect feeding and cleaning).”

Why bring your child to the dentist early on?

1. See how your child’s teeth are coming along

We can assess the growth and development of your child’s teeth to identify any potential problems early.

“There can be variations in the timing or sequence of your child’s teeth eruption, which may be significant,” explains Dr Chong. “Alternatively, past medical difficulties – during a mother’s pregnancy or a child’s birth or infancy – can affect the quality of a child’s tooth enamel and, in turn, their susceptibility to decay.”

If parents are aware of these features, then issues down the track can be prevented through oral hygiene maintenance and regular dental consultations.

2. Get to know the dentist

Bringing your child in for their first dental visit helps them to get to know us and avoid any dental fears
Introducing your child to the dentist early helps them to get to know us and avoid any dental fears. We can also check how your child's teeth are coming along.
Early checks for young patients are meant to be casual and non-threatening. At The Paediatric Dental Practice, we aim to make your child’s introduction to the new world of dentistry both friendly and child-orientated.

“Patience, combined with an accurate reading of your child’s body language, is the key to a successful check – that is, a dental exam is achieved,” says Dr Chong. “The appointment is also quick, fun and rewarding (in the form of presents).”

Subsequent visits are about gradually introducing new procedures to your child at their own pace. These may include taking photos and doing cleans or even minor treatment. It’s all aimed at gaining a positive experience for your child that we can build on.

3. Avoid dental fear

First impressions last and we’ll do everything we can to make your child’s first dental visit a fun and positive experience. It’s a lot easier if your child comes to the dentist when they feel comfortable or before dental pain exists.

“If pain is present, then your child will already have a heightened level of apprehension,” explains Dr Chong. “They might be baulking when they’re eating or brushing their teeth, so it makes it even harder for the dentist to examine them using instruments your child may have never seen before.”

We don’t want your child’s first memory of the dentist to involve treatment. Of course, if this is necessary, we can offer suggestions and options to make this easier on your child.

What happens at your child’s first dental visit?

The first visit for a younger patient is play-based using rewards. It’s generally performed in a close vicinity to their parents – for very young children, mum or dad can hold them on their lap while we look and feel inside their mouth, or you may be invited to sit close to your child while they’re in the dental chair.

“For older children, it’s all about gaining trust through honesty, openness and just being nice,” says Dr Chong. “If the patient is fearful of new things, then everything is shown and explained to them beforehand. If your child is fearful based on previous dental and medical experience, there’s always the opportunity for them to be in control through asking questions or resting often. They can dictate the pace or the extent of the examination.”

The appointment is also based on the concerns of the parents and what they’d like for us to achieve. Sometimes this involves answering a list of questions you may have. The time spent with you and your child will involve:

  • A comprehensive examination – this will outline any existing dental concerns
  • Oral hygiene instruction and home care – we’ll show how your child needs to brush and floss
  • Preventive strategies - how to stop dental problems before they begin
  • Dietary advice
  • Growth and development evaluation
  • An individual treatment plan (if required) – this may involve preventive strategies, behaviour modifications though positive reinforcement/environmental desensitisation, or treatment

How to prepare for your child's dental visit

It’s normal for children to feel uncertain and a little scared in new surroundings. Here are some tips for how you can best prepare for your child’s first dental visit.

Let your child know that visiting the dentist is normal and even mums and dads do it. If you’re going to your family dentist for a check-up, bring your child along to observe and get used to the dental environment. If an older sibling is visiting the dentist (assuming it’s an easy appointment and they’re a good role model), then the younger child can observe.

Maintain a positive attitude, as children are experts at picking up on adult apprehension and will often act accordingly. Avoid mentioning words or phrases they could take negatively, such as ‘scared’, ‘it won’t be bad’, ‘needles’ or ‘blood’.

Tell them you’ll be with them during their visit (you’re always welcome to accompany your child).

Bring them to the dentist without younger siblings (if possible), as they can sometimes be a distraction to the child or parent. Appointments work better when a child is one on one with a parent, as we can gain more information and achieve more during the examination.

PDP Dentists - Child Dental expertsIf your child is fearful it can sometimes help if they bring along an older sibling or cousin they admire, so they may perform better for their ‘audience’.

Some children may benefit from visual preparation. You can show them what our friendly dentists and staff look like, as well as take a look around our practice – tour our modern and fun waiting area with kids entertainment room, and specialist dental rooms.


Getting little teeth on track

We want happy little Vegemites who love coming to the dentist! If you want to make an appointment for your child’s first dental visit, you don’t need a referral to see our specialist paediatric dentists and hygienists. Just call us now on 07 5597 2000 or request an appointment online.


“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think”