First VisitAlong with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) we recommend that a child's first dental visit be scheduled within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth, and no later than their first birthday. These guidelines are very important for establishing a dental home and for getting the right habits in place early on. By learning about and decreasing risk factors that can eventually lead to cavities, we can stay on the preventive side of oral health. First visits help establish the dental office as a fin and positive experience, and allows children to get to know the doctor and staff. The result is a less anxious child who becomes more comfortable after enjoyable office visits. This is also an excellent opportunity for parental education and reinforcement of positive habits that will reduce cavity risk.
Dental ExaminationDental exams for infants and very young children are best accomplished by having the parent hold the child while facing the doctor sitting knee to knee. The child will face the parent with their legs straddled around the parent's waist. In this manner, the child's head can be positioned in the dentist's lap while the parent holds their child's hands on their tummy. This allows good visualization for both the parent and the dentist. A similar technique can be used at home to hold the child for brushing and flossing.
During the examination, we will record you child's medical and dental history, complete an oral examination, provide tooth charting and discuss any finding with you. Older cooperative children may also get a cleaning, and we may take diagnostic x-rays as part of the visit. It is important to keep first visits positive, to provide a good framework for future appointments. Sometimes this will require a series of shorter appointments to build trust, and gain confidence. If is best not to push children beyond their limits, because the negatives that result are hard to overcome, and make future appointments more difficult.
Pre-Appointment PreparationThere are many children's books on first dental visits. Unfortunately, most story lines include either a filling, or an extraction which can be very frightening, so choose wisely if you want to use this method.
Parents are encouraged not to "make a big deal" out of the visit. Most children suspect something is up if huge rewards and promises are made before the appointment. More often that not this technique fails. In the child's mind the thought process goes something like this: something terrible must be going to happen to me or my parents wouldn't try to bribe me. Also, parents are encouraged to refrain from using words that could cause unnecessary fear or anxiety such as pain, blood, shot, drill, yank, pull, or needle. Such words will cause a negative emotional response in your child and make the appointment much more difficult. We are experienced in dealing with childhood anxiety and can explain treatment in a simple and non-threatening manner. Anxiety overrides common sense, so even the smallest thing can be blown way out of proportion. For young children anxiety and fear of the unknown is quite normal. Most warm up with repeated appointments and a gentle approach.
Parents, if you have concerns or want all the details, or if you personally have a fear of dentistry, it is best to ask to speak with one of our staff in private.