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At what age should my child first visit the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend that a visit to the dentist should be scheduled by the child's first birthday. At this young age problems can be detected, treated early, or avoided completely. More importantly, it can help establish a positive relationship between your child and the dentist.
What will happen during my child's first visit?
Dr. Ta will examine your child's teeth and gums, checking for decay and other problems or abnormalities in the mouth. Your child's bite, proper alignment of jaws, and spacing for permanent teeth will also be evaluated.
X-rays may be taken to evaluate for hidden decay, position and location of the developing permanent teeth. We will also discuss potential problems such as nursing decay, pacifier and thumb-sucking habits. Dr. Ta and his staff will advise you on a program of preventive health care including brushing, flossing, proper nutrition, and the use of fluoride.
What do I tell my child about seeing the dentist?
Tell them that the dentist is a friendly doctor who will help them take care of their teeth. Talk about the visit in a positive matter of fact way, as you would any important new experience. Don't let the child know you feel any anxiety about going to the dentist and don't use a dental visit as a punishment or threat. A visit to the dentist should be a delightful adventure for a young child.
Do I stay with my child during the visit?
We ask that you allow your child to accompany our staff through the dental experience. We are all highly experienced in helping children overcome anxiety. Separation anxiety is not uncommon in children, so please try not to be concerned if your child exhibits some negative behavior. This is normal and will soon diminish. Studies and experience have shown that most children over the age of 3 react more positively when permitted to experience the dental visit on their own and in an environment designed for children.
Children's behavior in the dental office:
Pleasant visits to the dental office help a child establish trust and confidence that will last a lifetime. Pediatric dentists and their staff have been specially trained to help young, apprehensive children feel good about seeing the dentist and taking care of their teeth. Friendly, compassionate professionals and bright, cheerful office surroundings are all there to help your child feel comfortable and at ease with visiting the dentist.
We recommend scheduling younger children in the morning, when they are more rested and cooperative.
How often should regular visits be scheduled?
Ordinarily, periodic recall appointments, which include an examination, preventive dental education, cleaning and fluoride treatments will be recommended twice a year. The frequency of dental visits will partly depend on your child's eating habits; how clean his or her teeth are kept; and if he/she has a history of dental decay.
Starting at Age 1
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend establishing a "Dental Home" for your child by one year of age.
The Dental Home is intended to provide a place other than the Emergency Room for parents.
Pleasant First Visit
When the child is seen at one year, the first visit can be pleasant and uneventful, introducing the child and parents to the dental office. Emphasis is on the developmental assessment of the child’s oral health. Caries (tooth decay) or developmental disturbances can be managed early. Fluoride varnish may be applied to counteract beginning decay on newly erupted teeth.
Five Steps for Baby's First Dental Visit
Step 1: Clinical Examination by Age 12 Months
- Knee-to-knee exam with guardian
- Note clinical dental caries
- Soft tissue irregularities
- White-spot lesions, tongue anatomy
- Enamel decalification, hypoplasia
- Dietary staining
- Complete medical history
Step 2: Caries Risk Assessment
- Bottle or breast fed at night on demand
- Non-water in bedtime bottle
- Decalcification/caries present
- No oral home care
- Sugary foods, snacks
Step 3: Diet Counseling for Infants
- No juice or milk in bed
- Sippy cups can encourage decay
- Avoid sugar drinks, sodas
- Encourage variety and a balanced diet
- Low-sugar snacks
- Fluorides – topical and systemic
Step 4: Oral Home Care for Infants
- Brush/massage teeth and gums 2x daily
- Small, soft toothbrush
- Tiny amount of toothpaste, with Fluoride
- Guidance on thumb sucking, pacifier
- Response for home accidents, trauma
Step 5: Future Visit
- Based on Risk Assessment
- At age one year
- Two years if delayed in development