Your Child’s First Dental Visit
A pediatric dentist has at least two additional years of training beyond dental school. The additional training focuses on management and treatment of a child’s oral health needs, child behavior, and physical development. A pediatric dentist also has the knowledge to care for special needs children. Plus, our staff is highly trained and experienced in children’s dental care and how to put your child at ease.
WHEN SHOULD MY CHILD FIRST SEE A DENTIST?
“First visit by first birthday” is a good rule of thumb. It is highly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, and our office that a child should see a dentist by his or her 1st birthday. It is preferable that your child visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age.
WHY SO EARLY?
Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s oral health now and into the future. Dental problems can begin early, often due to baby bottle tooth decay, teething irritations, gum disease and prolonged thumb-sucking. More than 1 in 4 children in the United States have cavities by the time they are 4 years old, sometimes as early as age 2. Baby teeth hold space for permanent teeth, and decayed baby teeth can increase the risk for decay in permanent teeth. Children with healthy teeth and gums are able to chew food easily and smile with confidence. It is important to find a dental home now for your child, in order to build good dental habits for their lifetime.
HOW DO I PREPARE MY CHILD AND MYSELF FOR THE FIRST VISIT?
Explain to your child that the dentist wants to be their friend, by caring for their teeth. Act relaxed and at ease, and your child will likely follow your lead. Young children may cry because they are in unfamiliar surroundings. Explain to them that it’s okay to be nervous, but reassure them. Chances are their first dentist visit will be a positive one!
If your child is older, it is best to refrain from using words that may cause your child unnecessary fear, such as “needle”, “shot”, “pull”, “drill” and “hurt”. Our office makes a practice of using words that convey the same message, but in a pleasant and non-frightening way to your child.
For your convenience, please print out and complete all necessary paperwork from the Patient Forms page prior to your dentist visit.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT ON THE FIRST VISIT?
It is important to schedule your child’s dentist visit earlier in the day, when they are well-rested and less likely to be fussy. Also, if possible, it is best not to bring other children along on the first visit. Bring your child’s favorite toy, blanket or other familiar object to help your child know that the dentist office is a safe and comfortable place for him or her.
If your child is under 3, we ask that you accompany them to the treatment room. Depending on their age and comfort level, we will have your child sit in your lap or you may sit by your child’s side. For children over 3, the dentist visit may go more smoothly if the parent remains in the waiting room. Our staff is highly trained and experienced in helping children overcome anxiety. For parents, we have windows in each treatment room door, so you may look in on your child, if necessary. We want you to feel comfortable, too!
First, Dr. Park will review your child’s history and answer any questions or concerns you may have. If your child is experiencing any type of emergency or if your child is in pain, the dentist will deal with that first. He will count your child’s teeth, gently examine them for signs of possible tooth decay, look at your child’s gums to make sure they look healthy, and will examine your child’s bite, if necessary. The dentist will show you and your child how to care for their developing teeth in a fun and informative way and will offer advice about preventing future cavities through home care. Dr. Park will clean any teeth and will assess your child’s need for fluoride. He will also go over oral health care basics, discuss developmental issues and answer any additional questions.
Topics we may discuss might include:
- Good Oral Hygiene Practices for Your Child’s Teeth and Gums, plus Cavity Prevention
- Fluoride Needs
- Oral Habits (thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking, etc.)
- Developmental Milestones
- Proper Nutrition to Ensure Good Oral Health
- Schedule of Future Dental Check-Ups
Dr. Park would like to see your child every 6 months to build up your child’s confidence and comfort level in visiting the dentist, to monitor the development of his/her teeth, and to promptly treat any developing problems.
WHEN WILL MY CHILD GET THEIR FIRST X-RAY?
Most children have their first x-rays taken by the dentist between the ages of 5 and 6. However, children who are at higher risk for dental problems may need to have x-rays taken earlier. X-rays play an important role, because the dentist is able to see all of the adult teeth growing in the jaw (by age 6), can look for any bite problems, and can check for cavities or any further signs of decay. For your child’s safety and for your peace of mind, we only use low radiation digital x-rays.
Our goal is to work with you and your child, so he/she will have a positive and fun dentist visit and will look forward to coming back!