The Canadian Dental Association encourages the assessment of infants, by a dentist, within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age. The goal is to have your child visit the dentist before there is a problem with his or her teeth.
The first visit is usually a short one. Our aim is to give your child a chance to get to know the dentist and the clinic in a friendly and non-threatening manner.
During this visit our dental team will do the following:
- Cavity risk assessment
- Offer anticipatory guidance
- Examine your child’s teeth for decay
- Examine your child’s gums and soft tissue for disease or problems
- Evaluate the way your child’s teeth fit together, “the bite”.
- Identify any potential problems or deleterious habits.
- Show you and your child how to properly clean his or her teeth at home.
- Answer your questions or concerns.
We do not usually do a cleaning on your child’s first visit, since we want this visit to be as easy and fun as possible for your child. In some cases if your child is very mature or around the age of three or four at the time of their first visit, we may recommend a cleaning and fluoride application. This prophylaxis is an important treatment that serves to reinforce the importance of home care as well as remove plaque and tartar from teeth.
Some younger children are anxious about sitting in a dental chair initially, so in those cases a lap-top exam is preferred. In the later years it would be best for the child to sit independently as this enhances the communication between the dentist and the child, without the child looking to the parent for encouragement or security. Our dentists are experts at handling all types of young patients in a friendly and understanding way.
A parent or legal guardian must accompany the child for this first visit, since this person will be asked to fill out medical and dental health forms. The parent should also bring a list of any medications the child may be taking and be prepared to discuss any behavioral or health issues. This information is important because it helps us to treat and manage your child in a safe and effective manner.
Preparing for the First Office Visit
It is important to us and to your child that the first visit be a positive one.
We recommend that your child make their first visit at 12 months of age. At this visit our clinical team will count your child’s teeth and take a quick peek inside the mouth to assess his or her overall state of oral health and to pinpoint any problems early. The entire procedure may only take one or two minutes depending on the behavior of your child. The main goal is to have a fun and easy visit with your child and to introduce them to our dental clinic and children’s play village.
The best predictor of a child’s behavior in the dental chair is the parent’s level of anxiety. In most cases, if the parent is nervous, the child is going to feel the same way. Here are a few tips to help your child’s first dental visit go smoothly:
- Tell your child about the visit, but don’t go into details.
- Let the dentist answer the questions about dental tools and procedures since we often have kid friendly terms for all of our tools. We will explain things in a non-threatening, easy to understand manner.
- Never tell your child that something may hurt.
- Don’t tell your child about your own unpleasant experiences.
- Try not to promise your child a reward for going to the dentist.
Remember that young children are often fearful. Some are afraid of being separated from their parents, others from the unknown, and some are just shy. We treat many children in our office and have many ways of helping an anxious or fearful child learn to understand and cope with their dental visits.
Explain to your child that the dentist is there to help them with the very important job of keeping their teeth and gums healthy.
Often seeing a parent or older sibling having their exam/cleaning done can be a motivator for a younger child to do the same thing.
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.
Here are some “First Visit” tips:
- Take your child for a “preview” of the office.
- Read books with them about going to the dentist.
- Review with them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences.
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.
- What about preventative care?
Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand. At our office we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. We use the latest in dental sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. Dental sealants are space-age plastics 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.
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, of course, can help. 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 diets high in carbohydrates and sugars they tend to have thicker saliva, which in turn allows more of the acid-producing bacteria that can cause cavities.
- 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.
The first baby teeth that come into the mouth are the two bottom front teeth. You will notice this when your baby is about 6-8 months old. Next to follow will be the 4 upper front teeth and the remainder of your baby’s teeth will appear periodically. They will usually appear in pairs along the sides of the jaw until the child is about 2 1/2 years old.
At around 2 1/2 years old your child should have all 20 teeth. Between the ages of 5 and 6 the first permanent teeth will begin to erupt. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth and some don’t. Don’t worry if some teeth are a few months early or late as all children are different.
Baby teeth are important as they not only hold space for permanent teeth but they are important to chewing, biting, speech and appearance. For this reason it is important to maintain a healthy diet and daily hygiene.