At what age should my child see the dentist?
At Growing Smiles, we follow the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s (AAPD) recommendation that your child’s first dental visit takes place at age one. The purpose of the first visit is to educate you as the parent on the importance of maintaining good oral health and learning ways to prevent dental decay.
We understand that when you become a parent you are bombarded with information to help keep your child alive and well. The first years are vital and often times the importance of dental care gets overlooked and preventable cavities happen.
Does my child have to sit in the dental chair?
We do not expect a one or two-year old to sit properly in the dental chair and allow us to do what we normally would. Instead we take an approach called a knee-to-knee exam.
You will sit with your knees touching ours and your child will sit facing you, straddling your hips with their legs. You will then lay them back onto a padded board that covers both of our knees. This position allows your child to see you, hold your hands and let us see inside their mouth. When we are finished, they can sit up into your arms for a hug.
What happens if my child cries?
It is not uncommon for your child to cry. It can be expected when they are little because we are strangers trying to look into their mouths and that can be a vulnerable place. When they are crying their mouths are opened wide allowing us to see their teeth, tongue, throat and inside of their cheeks.
You can expect that as your child gets older and with more frequent visits, a trusting relationship will be built allowing them to feel safe. Part of dental fear is fear of the unknown, which is also why we recommend 6-month visits in order to create familiarity.
What are you looking for at this first visit?
At this first visit we are looking for obvious signs of early tooth decay, tooth eruption patterns and any notable pathology in the mouth.
When do we take radiographs (x-rays)?
We first expose radiographs around age three or four, if the back molars are touching. The only time we take films at younger ages if the we find notable decay that we want to get a better look at. We use digital radiography in our office which has the lowest dose of radiation and is the safest form. For added safety, we always use the lead vest when exposing radiographs.
How can I prepare my child for this first visit?
The best way to prepare them is with brushing and flossing at home. Your child will become less sensitive to having a dental mirror or toothbrush in their mouth if they are used to the routine home care. Playing dentist at home can become a fun way to get them excited about their visit. You can read books about the dentist and watch YouTube videos with them as well.
If you are afraid of the dentist, do your best not to relay those experiences with your child. Oftentimes, children can sense fear and if you paint a picture of a scary experience for them, they will be less likely to trust us. Talking up the dentist as a fun place helps tremendously. Encourage them that it will be easy, they will get their teeth brushed and at the end they get to pick out a prize!
We look forward to meeting you and your babe soon!