Ask Dr. Fishman | What You Need to Know about Taking Your Child to the Dentist!

When my son Brendan turned three in January, taking him to the dentist was on the top of my to-do list. Luckily, I had more than a few referrals to go see Dr. Fishman at Fishman Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Fishman provides dental care to children in Jacksonville, the Beaches, and St. Augustine communities.

Brendan was very excited to go to the dentist, thanks to an episode of the Bubble Guppies. He was even more excited when he walked in and saw a huge saltwater fish tank and a very, very kid-friendly lobby. It is a happy place, with a wonderful staff that would take away any fear a child may have about seeing the dentist.

Brendan and Owen having fun at Fishman Pediatric Dentistry
Brendan and Owen having fun at Fishman Pediatric Dentistry

I would love to go on and on about what a great patient Brendan was for the extraordinarily sweet staff, but of course, it turned into one of our meltdown days. Brendan was going through what I refer to as an “emotional growth spurt.” He was actually fine at first. Sat in the examination chair and was thrilled to see a TV on the ceiling! But once he realized his personal space was about to be invaded, it was all over.

Part of the reason I am telling this story is that not only did Dr. Fishman calm this raving lunatic (I say this with love), but the staff calmed me down, and assured me that not all children are well-behaved at the dentist’s office, especially three-year-olds… Ha!

The best part of the visit for Brendan was when he was rewarded with a trip to the “treasure box.” He picked out his own toy and was given a goodie bag with a new toothbrush and toothpaste. The best part for me was when Dr. Fishman told me that Brendan’s teeth look great!

From my experience, moms with very young children are never sure when to actually take their child to the dentist for the first time, and have many other questions about dental care for kids. Here is an awesome list of some of the most asked questions.

When should I take my child to the dentist for their first visit?

Per the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, in order to prevent dental problems, a child should see the dentist for the first time when their first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday.

How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

A check-up every six months is recommended in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, your pediatric dentist can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.

Are “baby” teeth really that important?

Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, but they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.

Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a “smear” of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2 to 5-year-old, dispense a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

Dr. Fishman
Dr. Fishman at work! (This is not Brendan. It is another child behaving very nicely).

Can I stay with my child during their dental visit?

At Fishman Pediatric Dentistry, we encourage parents to be as actively involved in their child’s visit as they feel comfortable. All parents are welcome in the treatment area if they desire. Having a parent back in the treatment area allows Dr. Fishman to effectively discuss with the parent ways in which their child can prevent decay and maintain proper dental hygiene. 

Oh no, what if my child cries during their dental visit?

A child crying during a dental visit is a completely normal and acceptable reaction.  It is best to not let your child’s tears affect you. If you let your child know you are visibly upset, it may increase their anxiety. Our friendly staff will certainly make an effort to keep your child as calm and relaxed as possible. 

For more frequently asked questions click here.

Important Information about Fishman Pediatric Dentistry

As a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist, Dr. Fishman has the knowledge and ability to provide the children in our community with the highest level of dental care. His office places an emphasis on prevention and providing an optimal level of dental healthcare for infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs. Dr. Fishman’s office is committed to educating both parents and children about appropriate dental hygiene. He greatly enjoys partnering with several local pre-schools and elementary schools in our area to teach our kids the importance of dental hygiene.

For more information about Fishman Pediatric Dentistry, visit their website and check them out on Facebook.

Vicky Lane
Vicky Lane is the co-owner and co-founder of Jacksonville Mom (formerly Jax Moms Blog). Since 2012, she has been overseeing the content and technical side of Jacksonville Mom. In this role, she manages over 30 writers and works closely with the managing editor to provide the most relevant content for the Jacksonville parenting community. In her previous career, Vicky obtained her Masters in Education and served as University Registrar at the University of North Florida. Wife to adoring husband John, her love for all things “Mom” began in 2010 when their son Brendan was born. Vicky chose to put her full-time career in higher education on hold to spend time with her new baby, giving her a new respect for motherhood and parenting. In June 2012, John and Vicky welcomed sweet Audrey to the family. Vicky has created an amazing circle of Moms who are continuously seeking new ways to enrich their children’s lives in and around Jacksonville. Being part of the creation of an online parenting resource and small business that serves the great Jacksonville area has allowed her to flourish in a successful career while remaining present for her family.


  1. my first visit went well i was a little worried but she handled it fine and welaughed about it later now she understands about brushig befor bedtime, no concern

  2. Well, my youngest child is well into his 20’s, needless to say I don’t recall when the first visit was, however, my grandchildren have all been going to the dentist. I believe that they all began around 3 or 4 years old, not a truly bad experience, but something different. 🙂

  3. From my own personal experience I know that this statement is true “Not all children are well-behaved at the dentist’s office.” I remember when I was young, probably around 5 or so and I would put up such a fight. I couldn’t stand the thought of being poked and prodded. If they got a needle near me it was over! I don’t remember any of these pour people that I freaked out on ever responding negatively to me. You gotta love dentist and their staff that are able to be calm and collected even in the face of a terrorizing child. God bless them!


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