Your child’s first visit in our office may include, (depending on his/her age) examination, cleaning, fluoride, and x-rays. You are welcome to come with your child for all procedures and if your child wants or needs to, they may sit on your lap.

Please note – the following are words we never use in our office: shot, needle, stick, poke, yank, drill, or blood. These words can be unnecessarily scary for young children. We use finger nail, mosquito bite, earth quake, Mr. Whistle, Mr. Bumpy, popcorn water, tickle, wiggle, thirsty straw, and tooth ketchup. If older children prefer, we can use the more common terminology.

Click on the video to see how Xavier did on his first visit to the dentist!


The waiting room has fun toys and books.

Last month Eli went to the dentist for the first time. Hmm. I wasn’t sure how that was going to go over. Little Guy likes new people and places, but a toddler sitting still while a stranger pokes in his mouth? But it went wonderfully!

We did some preparations beforehand. We got Eli the book Going to the Dentist by Anne Civardi. (It is part of the First Experiences Series by Usborne Books.) We read it several times before going to the dentist but also carried it with us on our visit. One of my friends recommended playing dentist several times before a first visit, so after reading the book, we started pulling out a flashlight and looking at each other’s teeth. It felt a little odd at first, but Eli thought it was funny. (Thanks for the good idea, Anjahni!)

The waiting room has fun toys and books.

We went to a pediatric dentist so they would have lots of experience with tots. Local mama and papa friends, I highly recommend Dr. Denise Allen in Oakland!

When it was Eli’s turn, we went into the bright, cheerfully-decorated room and Eli got to choose a new toothbrush. I think that won him over right off the bat.

Dr. Allen was very patient, describing her tools to Eli and explaining what she was going to do. She moved forward in increments — letting Eli put his hands on some of her tools and then her gloved hands to establish a first touch. She touched his hands and arm before she moved to his cheek and then his mouth. She also did things like using her dentist tool to count her own fingers and then Eli’s fingers before she moved on to counting (inspecting) Eli’s teeth.

Eli liked sitting in the chair, but we weren’t sure how he would like lying back in it. So for cleaning his teeth, Brian sat in the chair with Eli in his arms but Eli’s head was in Dr. Allen’s lap. Eli seemed to like that just fine.

An inspection and cleaning, then we were all done! It was fast enough that Eli didn’t get squirmy. Soon he was playing in the two story play house in the corner of the treatment room. Fun, fun!

Great memories at the dentist!

Great memories at the dentist!

And Eli was so excited about his toothbrush and the big superball Dr. Allen gave him that he held on to them tightly all the way home.

Now if Eli balks at toothbrushing, I remind him that Dr. Allen wants him to brush his teeth. For some reason, that works as motivation! And here’s another brushing trick I picked up from a papa friend… When my friend David brushes his toddler son’s teeth, his son complies if they name all the food they’ve eaten that day. As they brush, David will say, “Bye bye, toast! Bye bye, cheese! See you later, meatloaf…” Whatever works! (Thanks for the tip, David!)

One Mama’s Two Cents: We definitely found the right dentist for us. Dr. Allen is warm and gentle but also direct, which Eli responds to very well. (He tends to shy away from overly-cheerful or loud people, especially if they use baby talk.) I wish now I’d taken Eli in earlier. Once Eli’s first few teeth came in, I got a referral for a pediatric dentist from my own dentist and they said they usually see kids for the first time between 2.5 and 3 years. Once we got dental insurance for Eli at age two, however, that dentist wasn’t on our plan and we found Dr. Allen. She recommends beginning at age one. If we’d gone then, we’d known some of her tricks and tips earlier! For instance…

  • She showed us a much more effective way to brush Eli’s teeth — Little Guy lying on the floor with his head in my lap. Now I can actually see all his teeth while I brush!
  • Binkies should be sterilized or put in the dishwasher frequently because they can get plaque bacteria build-up too and this transfers back to the child’s mouth.
  • We’ve gotten our binky-adoring little guy to accept that binkies are only used in the crib, but we were gearing up to take them away altogether. Our dentist said she doesn’t see any huge tooth problems brewing and that we might be better off waiting until three so Eli doesn’t switch to his thumb (which is much harder to take away). Whew! We have a short reprieve.
  • She gave us the okay to use a very small smear of fluoride toothpaste. Even though Eli isn’t good at spitting it out yet, the filtered water we’ve been giving him his whole life may not have enough fluoride for him and this helps make up the difference.

One thing I would change… Our dentist put her forms up on her website and I filled them out in advance. That was great, but we still had to wait for the information to be added to the computer once we arrived. If I had it to do over again, I’d mail the forms in advance.