Local News

Early Dental Visits Have Their Rewards

Posted August 5, 2003 8:35 a.m. EDT

— How old were you when you first went to the dentist? It is recommended that children should visit the dentist by their first birthday.

Going to the dentist is a big step for any child, but with her hot pink sunglasses, 3-year-old Kerin Schaeffer is ready.

Kerin likes going to the dentist. She said her favorite part is getting her teeth brushed.

"She loves it, it's great fun," said Debbie Schaeffer, Kerin's mother. "She looks for her stickers, looks for her prizes, looks forward to having her teeth cleaned, too."

Dr. Robert Elliott, a pediatric dentist, said most children are around Kerin's age when they first come in. Elliott said, ideally, children should see a dentist at 12 months or when their first tooth appears.

"That really is to help educate the parents on how to prevent decay," he said.

During the first visit, dentists count and clean teeth and focus on teaching good brushing habits.

"We make those first few visits very fun, trust-building appointments," Elliott said.

Elliott admits that not all of his patients are as happy as Kerin.

"If I'm doing my job right, there really aren't that many screaming kids," he said.

Kerin has no cavities and her name was posted on the cavity-free board at the dentist's office.

Elliott said the worst thing parents can do is frighten their children before they get to the dentist with talk of pain or needles.