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Dental Fear as a Parent - When did you bring your kids in for the first time?



Apr 30, 2019
So I'll preface this by first saying I didn't know kids were supposed to go so young. Our regular pedi never recommended a dentist, never asked about a dentist, etc. I knew my kids were probably overdue - but apparently they need to go between 1 and 2? My kids have their first appointments on the 28th. My daughter just showed me her gums around her first permanent tooth are a bit red and inflamed. I'm feeling terrible parent guilt. I asked my husband (who has no dental phobia) to make their appointments and take them last year, but he has ADD and never did it, so now it falls on me, the one who gets physically sick at the dentist, to take them.

I'm frustrated with my H, I'm more frustrated with myself. I'm sure they will have a lot of dental work. Some feedback about taking your kids and how the experience went for them would be helpful.

First step is to correct the mistake and get them in - and I've made the appointment. I can't undo the past, but I can work on protecting their future.
Also, getting both my kids to brush their teeth is hell. I'm gone for work when they wake up (summer break) and neither of the other adults (Husband and my mother) are helping them brush their teeth. Super angry about this.
For helping them brush their teeth, you can try doing it whenever you can. I guess it would be mostly on weekend. Can you also do it at night during the week? Doing it only a few times would still be better then never.

When you are not around, maybe simply ask the other adults to do something simple. Could simply be asking the kids if they brushed or could go as far as checking if their toothbrush is wet and if it seems they used toothpaste.

I'm not sure how old your kids are but maybe you trust them enough to mark down on a board if they brushed and flossed and sort of making it a game.
I figured out what the red gums are - my daughter has a canker sore. I get them and have since I was younger. Not her first time getting one. So at least that mystery is solved!

I am going to make them brush their teeth at night with me. At least then I can help get the sugar and stuff off their teeth while they sleep. Will be good for me too - I'm getting better, but I'm typically terrible at brushing at night.
My kids pediatrician (and the dentist) told us they didn't need to start dental checkups until age 3, or even 5, depending on their teeth. My daughter's first dental checkuo was at age 5, and my son's was at age 3 (because he had a weird baby tooth that was tiny).
Honestly, it was hard for me, too, because my dental fear stems from awful childhood dental appointments. I was lucky that the dentist they started with was great with them, non threatening, and the hygienists were wonderful. It was actually a pediatric dentist, which kind of separated things for me, as it seemed different, and I could disconnect a bit. The dentist really impressed on the kids the need for good brushing, showing them illustrations, like a comic strip, of how to brush. They gave them one of those sand hourglass timers, which the kids still use to time out brushing. They also gave them those tablets that they chew after brushing to show where they missed.

We moved and where we live now is rural and pediatric dentists are no longer available. My daughter had her first cavity this past year, and needed braces and two extractions. It was tortuous for me to watch that. The filling was no big deal. They used a laser drill and didn't even need to give her a shot. The extractions were terrifying for me. She was 10 at the time, and was scared but after they were done, she was amazed that it was so easy and didn't hurt. The shots hurt but the dentist was wonderful and she got through them.

Now, I schedule checkups all at the same time. That way I get mine done while they get theirs. They don't see me scared, as a patient or as a mom, watching. I do not want them to inherit my fear through watching me be afraid.

You may be pleasantly surprised and your kids have no issues. Don't get down on yourself for not taking them sooner. Our new dentist told me that in the region we live now, it is common for parents to not bring their kids to the dentist until they get their first permanent tooth.

I give you so much credit despite your fears you have made an appointment for the kids. It is so hard to take them as an anxious parent yourself. before finding one I was comfortable with I would rather do anything dental work on myself than bring my kids and watch . I also am with Mountain Mama and think that I started both mine around 3ish.

It really helps to have someone you feel really comfortable with first.. for my daughter I picked a random pediatric dentist I didn't know .. it wasn't a good experience that was almost 20 years ago . If you pick a random pediatric dentist I would ask what their philosophy is on dealing with kids who are scared and see that you fee comfortable with them. After My daughters bad experience , I told my dentist at the time and he let her come in to my appts and gave her prizes and see that the dentist is not a scary bad place, that really helped.. and he did recommend another pediatric dentist when she wasn't scared any more and that one was one of the most lovely gentle sensitive dentists who was just great with her.

Right now my son goes to my dentist and he is the best with kids, he talks about his own kids which are my sons age, he is super cool with him, and also uses a water laser for fillings no pain at all! everyone is so kind and patient there..

I hope that you have a great experience for your kids and that they are very kind to them. and I encourage you to trust yourself and if any reason you don't feel comfortable for your kids try another place that you will have a better feeling and experience.. You and them do deserve to have great dental experiences.
Hi there,

please don't feel bad or guilty for whatever happened or haven't happened in the past or for what you haven't known. As MountainMama and krlovesherkids suggest, taking kids to the dentist is another hurdle on top of dealing with your own dental anxiety. It's great that you have an appointment now and that's everything that counts :)

I think geos' advice on just brushing with your kids whenever you can is a good one for the start. You can also ask your dentist about further advice on this.

The general advice is to take kids to the dentist as soon as possible so that they get used to the environment. It's not about looking at their teeth but about meet and greet, seeing the environment, experiencing happy faces and having a good time. By the time the first teeth are there they will be familiar with their dentist and feel ok with having their mouth checked. It also will make things easier if you ever need an emergency in the future, such as an tooth injury (which I hope you won't of course).

Brushing should be monitored until the age of seven as kids do not have the motoric skills to brush really well before that and need support. I can also recommend plaque control tabs to see and to show them how they did.

All the best wishes and keep us posted
Hi! I'm a hardcore phobic mom who by some miracle did not pass that on to my child who is now 21. I took her for the first time when she was 4 and every year after and it was SO HARD. I should clarify - hard for me, piece of cake for her. I interviewed until I found a pediatric dentist I was comfortable with and they were AWESOME with my child until she became too old to continue at their practice. I never mentioned my fear to my daughter or her dentist and she had no clue until she saw me totally freak out for an appointment of my own well into her teens. All this to say its possible for phobics to have kids that are completely ”okay” about trips to the dentist. It isn't easy but it can be done.
There are only two innate fears. Falling and loud noises so the rest are learned.
I came back and re-read replies and want to thank everyone. I had to reschedule and I changed the pediatric dentist (we move next month and I wanted one we could use after we move). My husband loves the dentist so he is going to take her tomorrow and I'm going to go to work. I'm afraid I would give in to her crying and fears and just leave without having her seen. She'd been having some soreness around one of her gums and she's been refusing to brush her teeth again (her regular pedi appointment is in two weeks and I'm starting the process of behavior evaluations). Our son will go after her once we make his appointment. I needed to do one at a time. =\ So wish us luck - I wouldn't be surprised if she needed fillings in her baby teeth but I'm hoping for the best. I thought I was going to lose all my teeth and I only lost one cracked rear molar.

Thank you for everyone's non-judgmental support. Helped far more than I can express. I'll post tomorrow after her appointment =)

Sounds like a good plan for your husband to take her if he loves going maybe she can feed off that energy. and if she needs fillings maybe she can get what my son did.. Our dentist did waterlaser fillings with no anesthetic , no pain or discomfort ! he thought it was "cool". Hoping for best!! Let us know
Last night when trying to brush her teeth it took 13 minutes of her running around and screaming to get it done.

In the end, she has 2 cavities on one side, and 4 on the other. They are also recommending sealants for 2 of her molars. They only offer laughing gas apparently.

I'm waiting for more details. It sounds like unfortunately she is taking after me with poor dental luck - my husband has ADD and often forgets to brush, but he's never had a cavity in his life. I've had many, and both my parents lost their teeth.