When should my child first visit a dentist?

By: Krystle Garza, DDS

Taking care of our little ones teeth’s as soon as they erupt is essential for the prevention of dental disease.  It is recommended that child’s first dental appointment and establishment of a dental home should be within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth or by 12 months of age.  A dental home is an ongoing relationship with a dental professional that will deliver an all-inclusive, comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated care in a family centered way.   This concept was first adopted by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP).  Children with established dental homes are more likely to receive the appropriate preventive and routine oral health care they need. And this routine care also increases the family’s oral healthcare knowledge and decreases the risk for early childhood dental caries. Dental caries, also known as dental decay, is the most common chronic disease that our children face in this country (according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Taking care of our little ones teeth’s as soon as they erupt is essential for the prevention of dental disease.  It is recommended that child’s first dental appointment and establishment of a dental home should be within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth or by 12 months of age.  A dental home is an ongoing relationship with a dental professional that will deliver an all-inclusive, comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated care in a family centered way.   This concept was first adopted by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP).  Children with established dental homes are more likely to receive the appropriate preventive and routine oral health care they need. And this routine care also increases the family’s oral healthcare knowledge and decreases the risk for early childhood dental caries. Dental caries, also known as dental decay, is the most common chronic disease that our children face in this country (according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

How can I prepare my child for their first visit?

Schedule the appointment when your child is well rested and cooperative.  Prepare your child for the visit by giving them a general idea of what to expect and be positive.  Explain why these dental visits are important.  Make it exciting for them and help them build an understanding of what to expect. Read them books or show them a video of a dental visit. This may make them more confident and less fearful of their visit.  Save snacks until after the appointment so it isn’t all over your child’s teeth during the exam.

Parents can prepare too.  Call the office before and ask if you can fill out any paperwork beforehand.  This might cut some of the wait time.  Make sure you write down any questions you have.  It’s easy to forget, while there.

What should I expect during my visit?

Your child might be sitting in your lap if your child does not want to sit in the chair alone.  Children usually feel more comfortable sitting with their parents.  The dentist will evaluate all hand and soft tissues including soft tissue attachments, tongue, gum tissues, relationship of the upper and lower jaws, teeth present, condition of teeth, presence of decay or white spot lesions and eruption pattern just to name of few.  Teeth will then be cleaned, and a fluoride varnish might also be applied.  A conversation between the caretakers and dental professionals covering decay prevention, proper oral home care and, injury prevention will also take place during the visit.  Don’t worry if your little one cries or wiggles during the exam; it is normal.  The dental team understands that this is a new experience for your child.

When should our next visit be?

Children, just like adults, should have an exam and cleaning every six months.  Children identified as higher risk for developing dental decay should be seen more regularly, every three months.  This will allow the child to become more familiar with the dental team and what to expect, and more frequent application of fluoride varnish with great supervision of dental health.

Taking care of our little ones teeth’s as soon as they erupt is essential for the prevention of dental disease.  It is recommended that child’s first dental appointment and establishment of a dental home should be within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth or by 12 months of age.  A dental home is an ongoing relationship with a dental professional that will deliver an all-inclusive, comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated care in a family centered way.   This concept was first adopted by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP).  Children with established dental homes are more likely to receive the appropriate preventive and routine oral health care they need. And this routine care also increases the family’s oral healthcare knowledge and decreases the risk for early childhood dental caries. Dental caries, also known as dental decay, is the most common chronic disease that our children face in this country (according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

How can I prepare my child for their first visit?

Schedule the appointment when your child is well rested and cooperative.  Prepare your child for the visit by giving them a general idea of what to expect and be positive.  Explain why these dental visits are important.  Make it exciting for them and help them build an understanding of what to expect. Read them books or show them a video of a dental visit. This may make them more confident and less fearful of their visit.  Save snacks until after the appointment so it isn’t all over your child’s teeth during the exam.

Parents can prepare too.  Call the office before and ask if you can fill out any paperwork beforehand.  This might cut some of the wait time.  Make sure you write down any questions you have.  It’s easy to forget, while there.

What should I expect during my visit?

Your child might be sitting in your lap if your child does not want to sit in the chair alone.  Children usually feel more comfortable sitting with their parents.  The dentist will evaluate all hand and soft tissues including soft tissue attachments, tongue, gum tissues, relationship of the upper and lower jaws, teeth present, condition of teeth, presence of decay or white spot lesions and eruption pattern just to name of few.  Teeth will then be cleaned, and a fluoride varnish might also be applied.  A conversation between the caretakers and dental professionals covering decay prevention, proper oral home care and, injury prevention will also take place during the visit.

Don’t worry if your little one cries or wiggles during the exam; it is normal.  The dental team understands that this is a new experience for your child.

When should our next visit be?

Children, just like adults, should have an exam and cleaning every six months.  Children identified as higher risk for developing dental decay should be seen more regularly, every three months.  This will allow the child to become more familiar with the dental team and what to expect, and more frequent application of fluoride varnish with great supervision of dental health.

Helpful tips

  • Start brushing your child’s teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush at the eruption of the first tooth
  • No more than a smear or grain of rice amount of fluoride toothpaste should be used at the eruption of the first tooth until the child is 3 years old or can properly spit.
  • Children will need help brushing their teeth until they are 7 to 10 years of age, or until they can demonstrate that they are capable and understand proper oral hygiene.
  • The AAP has recommended that children 1 to 6 years of age consume no more than four to six ounces of 100% fruit juice a day, from a cup (not a bottle or covered cup).

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