Your Child’s First Dental Visit

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommends that a visit to the dentist should be scheduled by the child’s first birthday. This will give the dentist an opportunity to detect any problems and treat them early, as necessary, and hopefully give the advice to prevent future problems.

Berenstain Bears Visit the DentistA good beginning to your child’s first dental visit is to obtain one of many books on “going to the dentist”. These books usually explain a routine dental visit in a positive tone with helpful pictures to show your child what to expect at the dental office. One of the major factors that cause a child to cry is fear of the unknown. If the dental visit is portrayed in positive terms with positive pictures, the child will be much more comfortable when they arrive at the office. Make sure you explain that the dental staff will always tell and show your child everything before they do anything. Sometimes well-intended parents say things that put images in their child’s minds that may not be helpful. PLEASE try not to use negative words or phrases like “you won’t get a shot” or “nothing will hurt”. We want the experience of going to the dentist to be an enjoyable experience in their life.

Parents are welcome to accompany the child during the dental visit. Whatever makes your child have the best visit possible is obviously best for everyone. Parents usually understand that just like when their child is in school, he or she may listen and behave better when they are not around. These children love to come back by themselves and sometimes even kick mom or dad out! However, some children are not ready for this separation and we simply complete the visit with the child in mom or dad’s lap. Since children have different emotional needs our professionals here at Western Heights have many approaches to make the dental visit a positive experience.

The first visit usually lasts about 30 to 45 minutes and may include the following, depending on the age: a thorough examination of the teeth, bite, gums, and oral tissues to monitor growth and development; and if needed, a gentle cleaning, which includes polishing teeth and removing any plaques, tartar, and stains. The dentist or hygienist may demonstrate proper home cleaning, including flossing and the possible need for fluoride. X-rays may be taken depending on the age of your child. . Only after a complete examination are we in a position to form a comprehensive treatment plan for your child.