Doctors' Notes

Making The Dentist Fun For Kids

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Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our contribution from Urban Health correspondents (and husband and wife) physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson.  The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health, as it relates to African Americans.  Please feel free to send them questions via digitalpitches@ebony.comWe promise to keep it anonymous. 


One of the most feared experiences by both parents and kids alike is that first trip to the dentist. As a result, we can find ourselves waiting much later than we should to introduce proper dental care to our children. For National Children’s Dental Health Month, we spoke with dentist Dr. Linda Sturrup, author of A Sugar Bug On My Tooth. Here she shares some tips on dealing with the fears that kids have about the dentist and answers the most common questions that parents have about the dental health of their little ones. Be sure to follow these tips to keep your child’s smile bright and healthy.

JET: At what age should parents start sending their children to the dentist?

Dr. Linda Sturrup: It’s recommended that you introduce your child to the dentist within the first year of life-specifically, once a child’s first tooth appears. At that time, the dentist will discuss topics of nutrition, evaluate dietary intake which can affect teeth and gums, and help parents establish healthy oral hygiene habits for their children.

JET: What are some of the biggest mistakes parents make as it relates to their children’s dental health?

LS: Waiting for a problem to develop before their child visits the dentist for the first time. Also, improper brushing or flossing, coupled with a lack of emphasis on a healthy diet. A healthy diet complete with fruits and vegetables can help prevent cavities, and proper brushing and flossing is essential to a child’s overall health.

JET: How important is good dental hygiene in childhood?

LS: I call childhood primary teeth, “practice teeth.” It is during this time the dentist and parents can evaluate their child’s teeth, gums and oral hygiene habits. Supervising and monitoring children with brushing and flossing will help establish healthy teeth and gums. Therefore, healthy oral hygiene practices established with primary teeth will be in place once permanent teeth erupt.

JET: What inspired you to write A Sugar Bug On My Tooth?

LS: Working in a practice that treats young children, it’s very common to see them become afraid and uncomfortable during the dental examination. This inspired me to write A Sugar Bug On My Tooth. I wanted to write a book for young children to teach and encourage them that going to the dentist is important, and can also be fun.

JET: What are the biggest fears children have when visiting the dentist for the first time?

LS: Children fear the unknown and are afraid they will have pain. It’s important to make the initial visit to the dentist as pleasant as possible. The goal is to make their dental appointments pleasant and successful.

JET: What can parents do in preparation for that first visit to ensure a good experience?

LS: Parents can act as role models for their children by demonstrating healthy oral hygiene habits. Talking to their children about going to the dentist and taking good care of their teeth is a great way to help them understand and prepare them for their first dental visit. Interactive resources which are enlightening and entertaining can help educate children on the importance of healthcare. Having a successful first dental appointment will help to create a positive attitude going forward.

For more information on how you can get a copy of A Sugar Bug On My Tooth, please visit!


It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors: Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall, a multimedia health and wellness resource, and also hosts of the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!