Frequent Questions in Paediatric Dentistry


Ideally, the first visit should be when the first tooth appears or at least before the end of the first year.

During this appointment various subjects will be raised such as teething, oral hygiene, eating habits, damage to teeth, sucking habits (thumb and/or dummy/pacifier) and occlusion (how the teeth fit together).  Besides these, of the child’s risk of caries and the most appropriate routine of appointments needed in each case will be assessed. If the child is comfortable, this appointment will also include preventative care (polishing teeth and applying flouride) so that the child gets used to paediatric dentistry and dental instruments.

When the first dental examination is carried out in this way, the child sees the dentist as a friend who will help to take care of their teeth throughout their lifetime and will not have any kind of fear if any more complicated treatment is necessary.

Summing up, the first dental appointment a child has must be as early as possible and never only when there is pain or in an emergency!

Above all, do not pass your fears on to your children. Even parents who fear the dentist and those who are anxious or worried should try to hide these feelings and take a positive attitude towards the visit.

In a general way, you can explain to the child what a dentist is, say that you are taking the child to show their teeth so they are always strong and healthy.

Show enthusiasm, speak happily and calmly make it fun and spark curiosity. There are books and cartoons which can be very helpful with this as they talk about dentists in a lighthearted and positive way.

Avoid saying too much about it, do not explain in detail or promise gifts or excursions if the child behaves well, as this will make the child feel insecure and suspect that there is something wrong with visiting the dentist.

Avoid talking about the dentist or other health professionals as a punishment for the child in daily conversations (statements like “you had better behave yourself, or else I’ll take you to the doctor to get a jab,” should never be used.)

Choose a time for the appointment when you know the child is normally happy, for example, if the child is often grumpy in the afternoon, make the appointment for the morning and also avoid making appointments at times when the child has special events (sports, TV programmes, etc.)

There is no definite time when a child should be left alone with the dentist. There are cases where the parents’ presence benefits the child, making them feel safe and secure and others where the parents’ presence has a negative effect on the child’s behaviour and, consequently, how well the appointment goes.

After seeing how the child responds/ interacts with parents present, the dentist may ask the parents to leave the room, which should be taken as a natural step, especially in cases where the child is not very cooperative. 

For most health professionals establishing a friendly relationship with the child is made easier without the parents’ input, even if a parent is present in the room, they should not intervene in the conversation the dentist is trying to establish with the child, such as answering the dentist’s questions for the child.

It is important that the dentist establishes a conversation with the child in order to be able to gauge their psychological state precisely (this is extremely important in deciding what the most appropriate dental treatment should be), as well as noting if there are any speech disorders that could indicate an underlying dental problem.

It is crucial to build a confident relationship which will help in carrying out any treatment, therefore, all the questions that parents might have about the dental procedure to be carried out, how long it will take, what instruments will be used and other details connected with the treatment should be put at the appropriate moment in order not to scare the child or lead them to believe that the dentist is hiding something which will cause them fear or pain.

Adolescents should be seen without their parents, especially for their first appointment. Questions will be asked to establish a clinical history that young people would probably feel more comfortable answering without their parents present (for example, their smoking habits).

In short, the presence of the parents should always be carefully thought out, as the main objective is for the appointment to go as well as possible and the best treatment to be provided for the young person concerned.

Yes.  Dentist’s cheques are obtained from the health centre or through the school the child attends and can be used provided they are validated. Pregnant women are also entitled to use dentist’s cheques.