Our office, as well as the The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend a dental visit for children by 12 months of age. This goal of this visit is to establish a “dental home” which is an ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, allowing oral heath care to be delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated and family centered way.
The First Visit Starts at Home
- First be aware of your own fears. It is very important that you do not tell negative stories about your visits to the dentist in front of your child. Children are very perceptive and certain to pick up on your attitude towards the dentist so remain positive about their appointment.
- Explain to your child things such as “Dr. Amy is going to teach you how to take care of your teeth,” “she will count your teeth using a special tooth mirror” and “she may take pictures of your teeth to make sure they are healthy."
- There are several books you can read together such as The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist, Max Goes to the Dentist by Adria F. Kline, and Dora the Explorer, Show me your Smile!. Some find it helpful to play dentist, let your child practice opening wide, letting you look at his/her teeth.
- It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as "needle", "shot", "pull", "drill" or "hurt". As a pediatric dental office we are very careful to explain everything to children using words that are pleasant and non-frightening.
What to Expect During the First Visit
We invite you to stay with your child through each step of the first visit. You will want to arrive at least 10 minutes prior to your appointment so you can complete any necessary paperwork and allow your child some time to adjust and explore our office.
During your first visit we will gather all the information we need to develop a preventative program unique to your child. We will discuss appropriate home care such as brushing, flossing, diet and fluoride as it relates to your child specifically. Dr. Amy will perform a thorough dental exam for each child, determine their dental caries risk, check for any tooth decay, examine their occlusion (bite), evaluate for any dental growth or developmental concerns, and discuss any oral habits such as the thumb, finger or pacifier use. Dr. Amy will recommend dental xrays only if necessary. We will determine during the first visit whether your child is ready for a dental cleaning and fluoride treatment, this typically depends on your child’s age and level of anxiety. For infants and toddlers we typically perform a “knee-to-knee” exam. For this exam, a child sits on your lap and leans back onto a soft pillow resting on Dr. Amy’s knees to complete the examination. This allows parent participation for the exam, and therefore, added comfort for your child. If Dr. Amy determines your child needs dental treatment she will discuss all the options offered in our office and help you make the best choice for your child.
Before completing the first visit we will take a photograph of your child in the dental chair with a stuffed animal or toy. This is for you to take home to remember this visit for years to come! At the end of the appointment, your child will receive stickers and a token to use at our prize tower before leaving our office.
What About After My Child's First Visit
Don’t be discouraged if your child cries on the first visit to the dentist. Crying is a normal reaction for some children when faced with a new situation. Remember to compliment your child to others no matter how your child performed during their visit. it is important they feel reassured and positive about their dental experience. The more positive we all make the visit the more they will want to come back and try even harder next time!
If you get home and realize there was something you forgot to ask, don’t hesitate to call our office. We realize the first appointment can be overwhelming and we want you to feel you have had your questions answered completely.
We strive to make each and every visit to our office a fun one!