Your 1st Visit

What to Expect at Your First Visit

We view your child’s first visit as our first opportunity to show your child how fun and exciting dentistry can be! Our goal is to make your child as comfortable as possible while teaching how to take care of his/her teeth. Our office is designed with children in mind and our staff treats your child as if they were one of their own. Getting an early start in regular dental care is an important step on the road to teaching your child healthy lifetime dental habits.

Brushing the doll

Get started early with dental visits as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association all recommend that a child see the dentist for the first time around his/her 1st birthday. This allows us to develop a custom preventive program especially for your infant or toddler. Dental problems can begin early. Once your child’s diet includes anything other than breast milk then the erupted teeth are susceptible to decay. Research studies indicate that dental cavities are the most common chronic childhood disease in America and affect 50% of 1st graders! The earlier the dental visit, the better our chances of developing a preventive program that can keep your child cavity free!

First Visit – Infants and Toddlers

As noted above, our focus during the first visit is to gather information that allows us to formulate a preventive program that addresses the unique issues that affect your child’s oral health. We do this through anticipatory guidance where we assess your child’s risk factors, anticipate the potential oral health problems that your child may encounter, and guide you towards ways to avoid these potential problems. We will present the following:

  • A program of preventive home care including brushing, flossing, diet, and the importance of fluorides
  • A caries risk assessment
  • Information about Early childhood Caries, which may be due to inappropriate nursing habits or inappropriate use of sippy cups.
  • Facts about finger, thumb and pacifier habits.
  • What you need to know about preventing injuries to the mouth and teeth.
  • Information on growth and development.

Our infant and toddler exams take place in our infant rooms where we are able to bypass the potentially intimidating exam in a dental chair in favor of a more comforting “knee-to-knee” exam. We have the parent and child participate in a knee-to-knee exam where the child sits in his parent’s lap and leans back into the lap of the dentist for examination. Please view our video below for a demonstration of a knee-to-knee exam (coming soon). We will also demonstrate proper brushing technique for your child so that you can keep his/her teeth clean and sparkly at home. Of course, no visit is complete without a trip to the prize bin or prize machine!

Many parents are concerned that their infant or toddler may cry at the first visit. While we make every effort possible to ensure that your infant or toddler’s visit is as happy as possible, some children do react to a trip to the dentist with fear or crying. This is normal behavior and our doctors and staff will comfort your child to make the appointment as happy as possible. We always make sure to praise your child for the things that they have done well and make the visit end on a happy note with a prize and a balloon!

First visit for preschool and school aged children

Once a child reaches the age of three or older we attempt to have our first visit take place in the “big boy/big girl” dental chair. However, if your child is anxious about this setting we may elect to have our first visit take place in the infant and toddler room as detailed above. Our goals for the 1st visit are to gather information about your child (medical history, normal oral hygiene routine, diet) to determine his/her risk for cavities, introduce your child to dental cleanings, examine your child’s teeth, and take any X-Rays that are indicated. We will discuss your child’s oral hygiene, diet, fluoride exposure, injury prevention, oral habits (thumb-sucking, pacifier, etc.), and dental development. If there are any cavities noted we will formulate a plan for treating the cavities and also discuss ways to prevent any more cavities from forming. Watch the video below for a demonstration of our exam, cleaning, and fluoride application (coming soon).

Adolescents have special dental needs as well. Appearance and self-image are very important to them. Decayed or poorly positioned teeth or jaws might make them more self-conscious. Teens also eat frequently, and unhealthy snack foods tend to become a major part of their regular diet. We provide a professional, sensitive and caring approach to restoring and guiding teeth, and teaching preventive dental health care through the teen’s high school years. When necessary, we will provide information on sealants, wisdom teeth, and missing teeth.

Preparing for the first visit

Preparing your child for the 1st visit should be fun and laid back. You can “play dentist” and let your child practice opening his/her mouth so you can brush his/her teeth. You can also let your child practice brushing your teeth! Consider reading books with your child about going to the dentist. Some examples of some dental related books can be found here.

Talk about the visit in a very positive manner and if you are anxious about your child’s visit yourself try not to let them pick up on it because it will increase your child’s anxiety as well. Try not to use any words with a negative connotation and instead try to use words that children understand to be happy and positive. Avoid talking about subjects that can be very scary such as needles or “pulling or yanking out teeth”. Focus on the positive and your child will be much more excited and less anxious about visiting the dentist.

One parent or guardian is welcomed to come back into the treatment area with the child for any appointment if they wish. All other adults and children should remain in the waiting room for the safety and privacy of other patients. Most children 3 and younger do much better with the comfort of a parent present and we do highly recommend that parents accompany children of this age for their visits. Older children sometimes do better without their parents present. If we think your presence is negatively affecting your child’s behavior we will discuss this with you. Most of our dental exams take place in an open bay but we do have windows in the doorways of all of our operatories as well so if you do not wish to be present in the operatory or open bay for your child’s exam you can still peek in and watch as a silent observer.

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