By Neal R. Benham, D.D.S., KiDZ.R.US Pediatric Dentistry
When should child have their first dental visit? Before the rest of the information, it is important that you keep your teeth clean starting in pregnancy. Decay is passed from the main caregiver to the child. The AAP, ADA, and AAPD recommend a first visit by age one.
What should you expect to happen at the visit?
• Expect some crying. All children cry except those who don’t. It’s a new experience, and it is normal for children to cry.
• A review of concerns of the parents.
• Hygiene instructions.
• Review of flouride use, both topical and systemic.
• Cavity check. Yes, one year olds do get cavities.
• Feeding issues, bottle, breast, and snacks
What should parents do before the first visit?
• Work with your child about opening and showing their teeth. Be persistent and consistent. This should start with cleaning gums before teeth erupt and brushing when they do erupt.
• Be positive. If you have issues with going to the dentist, have your spouse or a grandparent be the one to bring your child for their visit.
• Read books about visiting the dentist. Bernstein Bears is a good example.
How often do children need to visit the dentist?
Every six months is usual due to the rapidly changing development. Different things happen as the child grows and develops. They get used to the office. They get more teeth. Teeth get closer together. Children become more cooperative.
What happens if my child gets cavities?
Options depend on the number, location, and severity. Postponing with daily topical fluoride applications, removing decay with hand instruments, and a fluoride-releasing filling being placed, or if more involved, sedation or general anesthesia in the hospital.
The key is start early – be positive – it’s a life-long journey, not a single visit.