Dentistry for Children
Your child’s first visit
We typically recommend that children have their first dental visit as a patient around age three. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced the idea of a ‘dental home.’ They established a policy that “Patients who have been determined to be at risk of development of dental caries or who fall into recognized risk groups should be directed to establish a dental home 6 months after the first tooth erupts or by 1 year of age (whichever comes first).”
Many parenting magazines have misinterpreted the AAP’s statement and routinely publish that all children should be seen following that timeline (by age 1). We are happy to have a discussion with you to determine if your child should be seen earlier than age three.
The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. We may ask you to sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the examination. We will gently examine your child’s teeth and gums. X-rays may be taken (to reveal decay and check on the progress of your child’s permanent teeth under the gums). We may clean your child’s teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. We will make sure your child is receiving adequate fluoride at home. Most important of all, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth.
What should I tell my child about the first dental visit?
Here are some “First Visit” tips:
- Take your child for a “preview” of the office.
- Read books with them about going to the dentist.
- Review with them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences.
“During your first visit the dentist will…
- Examine your mouth, teeth and gums.
- Evaluate habits (thumb sucking, pacifiers)
- Check to see if you need fluoride.
- Teach you about cleaning your teeth and gums.
- Suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.
We strongly recommend having your child come with you to one of your cleaning appointments to see what is involved at the cleaning and exam appointment. We have found that children will be more comfortable with the dentist if they see a parent have a positive dental experience.
What about preventative care?
Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand. At our office we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. We use the latest in dental sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. Dental sealants are space-age plastics that are bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay-prone back teeth. This is just one of the ways we will set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.
Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. The longer it takes your child to chew their food and the longer the residue stays on their teeth, the greater the chances of getting cavities.
Tips for cavity prevention
- Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
- Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
- Watch what your child drinks.
- Avoid giving your child sticky foods.
- Make treats part of meals.
- Choose nutritious snacks.
Baby teeth are important as they not only hold space for permanent teeth but they are important to chewing, biting, speech and appearance. For this reason it is important to maintain a healthy diet and daily hygiene.