Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist
The first “regular” dental visit should be just after your child’s third birthday. 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. You may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist.
We will gently examine your child’s teeth and gums. Radiographs may be taken to reveal decay and check on the progress of your child’s permanent teeth below the gums. We will attempt to clean your child’s teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. Your child’s fluoride needs will be based upon the type of drinking water that exists in your home. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, fluoride supplements or fluoride treatments may be needed. Most importantly, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth and suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.
What Should I Tell my Child About the First Dental Visit?
We are asked this question many times. We suggest you prepare your child the same way you would before their first haircut or trip to the shoe store. Your child’s reaction to his first visit to the dentist may surprise you.
First Visit Tips:
- Take your child for a “preview” of the office.
- Read books with them about going to the dentist.
- Talk with your child about the visit and review with them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences.
- Emphasize to your child how important it is to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
During your first visit the dentist will:
- Examine your mouth, teeth and gums.
- Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking.
- Check to see if you need fluoride.
- Teach you about cleaning your teeth and gums.
- Suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.
Parents and dentists each play an important role in making the first dental visit a positive experience.
Tooth decay and children do not have to go hand in hand. At our office, we are concerned with all aspects of preventive care for your child. We use the latest in dental sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. Sealants are thin, plastic protective barriers 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.
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.
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 can help with cavity prevention. 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.
Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria digests the sugars. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time, the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities.
Consistency of a person’s saliva also makes a difference; thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. When a person eats a diet high in carbohydrates and sugars they tend to have thicker saliva, which in turn allows for more of the acid-producing bacteria that can cause cavities.
Children’s teeth should be cleaned as soon as they emerge. By starting early, your child gets used to a daily routine. A soft washcloth wrapped around your finger can substitute for a toothbrush when teeth first appear. In many instances, children lack the coordination to brush or floss their teeth on their own until about the age of 6 or 7. Up until this time, remember that the best way to teach a child how to brush their teeth is to lead by example. Allowing your child to watch you brush your teeth teaches the importance of good oral hygiene.
- Choose a small, child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Up until 2 years of age, use only plain tap water for brushing so that your child does not ingest any toothpaste.
- Brush your child’s teeth twice a day– in the morning and just before bed. Spend 2 minutes brushing.
- Many children’s toothpastes are flavored with child-pleasing tastes to further encourage brushing. Select your child’s favorite flavor. We recommend a toothpaste which carries the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Read the manufacturer’s label as some toothpastes are not recommended for children under a certain age.
- Replace the toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if it shows signs of wear. Never share toothbrushes between children.
- Start flossing your child’s teeth once a day as soon as multiple teeth emerge.
Baby teeth are important as they not only hold space for permanent teeth but they are also vital to biting, chewing, speech, and appearance. For these reasons, it is imperative for your child to maintain a healthy diet and daily hygiene.