A child’s first regular dental visit is typically just after their third birthday, though the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the first visit by the first birthday. Early examination and preventive care can help protect your child’s smile now and in the future.
Your Child’s First Visit
The first visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. A gentle examine of your child’s teeth and gums along with X-rays may be taken to reveal decay and check on the progress of your child’s permanent teeth under the gums.
A basic cleaning application of topical fluoride may be given to help protect the teeth against decay. We will make sure your child is receiving adequate fluoride at home and most important of all, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth.
Parents/Guardians may be asked to sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the examination. You may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist.
- Examine your child’s mouth, teeth and gums.
- Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking.
- Check to see if your child needs fluoride.
- Teach you about cleaning your child’s teeth and gums.
- Suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.
Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand and at the office of Dr. Hayes we are 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 prevent unnecessary cavities.
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. Be sure to follow these simple tips:
- 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How will my child's teeth develop?
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.
- Are baby teeth really that important?
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.
- 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.
- How can I prevent cavities?
Watch your child’s diet to eliminate high levels of fermentable carbohydrates (sugars), encourage a daily routine of dental care, never allow your child to go to bed with anything other than water, start cleaning your child’s mouth from their very first meal.
- Should I worry about thumb sucking or pacifier?
Thumb sucking or a pacifier habit are normal for infants and young children. The habit should be discouraged by the age of four in order to reduce the risk of bite problems or crowded teeth.
- Should my child be using fluoride toothpaste?
If your child is unable to spit, fluoridated toothpaste should be avoided and a gum cleanser or non-fluoridated toothpaste should be substituted.
- We have well water at home. Do we need fluoride drops?
That depends. Some well water has fluoride in it and the water should be tested for fluoride content prior to receiving fluoride supplements for your child. Additionally, if your child does not drink the well water and receives adequate fluoride levels from the beverages they consume, they may not need fluoride supplementation.
- What are the risks of too much fluoride?
When a child receives too much fluoride (either through swallowing excessive amounts of toothpaste/fluoride rinse or ingesting prescription fluoride when drinking water contains fluoride) the enamel is weakened in the developing teeth still under the gums in the bone.
These teeth may be rough, pitted, discolored and weak. These teeth are at high risk of developing cavities and need to be treated very carefully. Fluoride is an important part of caring for teeth. It needs to be carefully regulated in your child’s environment to promote a healthy smile.
- How do I protect their teeth during sports?
Mouthguards are the best way to protect your child’s teeth during sport events. Several types of mouthguards exist and your dentist can discuss which mouthguard would suit your child best.
- What if a permanent tooth is knocked out?
Try to find the tooth. Gently pick it up by the crown (try not to touch the root). Rinse it with plain water (no soap or cleanser), do not dry it. Place it back in your child’s mouth either in the socket or in between the cheek and gum. Cover it gently with gauze or paper towel to prevent swallowing of the tooth.
If unable to place it back in the mouth, put it in a container with milk, saliva or plain water. Call your dentist immediately for care. The sooner the tooth can be treated, the higher the chance it can be saved.
- How safe are dental xrays for my child?
There is very little risk in dental xrays. This office uses a digital system that greatly reduces the amount of radiation exposure your child receives with each xray. Living in a brick house or taking a trans-coastal flight exposes your child to higher levels of radiation than the average set of dental xrays. Children tend to need xrays more often than adults since their mouths change more rapidly.