First Dental Visit
Often, young parents are confused about when to take their child to the dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child is seen by a dentist no later than 12 months.
This is a strange recommendation for some parents since their babies have just started teething. However, a visit to the dentist office is much more than cleanings and radiographs. An early visit to the dental office is a chance to establish a dental home.
What is a "Dental Home" ?
A dental home is an environment where parents/patients can communicate with providers to get their questions answered, receive advice on how to care for our teeth, and learn what to expect as our patients grow. This means that our doctor and staff would explain what is the best way to brush, when to use fluoride toothpaste, how much toothpaste, when to expect erupting teeth, etc. This allows us to help parents and patients prevent future tooth decay.
Another important goal of visiting the dentist early is to allow children to get comfortable in the dental environment and our staff. We work with children at their comfort level and often do not "push" patients. As our children grow, we are certain that they will mature into confident patients who enjoy the dental experience.
FIVE Goals of the First Dental Visit
1. Meet the dentist and his staff
2. Get introduced to all the dental chair, instruments, and sounds
3. Answer all of parent's questions and concerns
4. Check oral health and evaluate risk factors
5. Allow dentist and staff to provide oral hygiene and dietary recommendations
Dr. Don's General Recommendations
1. Maintain healthy oral health and habits in expecting mothers since the bacteria that causes caries can be transmitted to babies when born.
2. Expecting mothers can go to dental visits for general checkups, cleanings, and use xylitol products.
3. Try to avoid certain medications and antibiotics because it can cause irregular dental development
1. Maintain healthy oral health in babies by wiping tongue and gums with towel or gauze after feeding. The bacteria that causes caries can start growing before the first tooth erupts.
2. Allow use of bottles and pacifier for 12-18 months for facial development. However, these sucking habits (pacifier and/or tongue) should be eliminated by age 3 to allow normal development of teeth and face. Our office has a few suggestions on how to break non-nutritive sucking habits.
3. Do not allow babies to fall asleep with milk or juice. The sugars that sit over night are one of the greatest risks factors for early caries infection aka "baby bottle caries."
4. Starting brushing with fluoridated toothpaste when first tooth erupts but use limited amounts.
5. Dental exams at the office are mostly limited and performed in knee to knee position. If parents have a hard time brushing at home, knee to knee position is advised.
1. If baby molars are in tight contact, flossing should be introduced to child and performed to prevent caries.
2. Radiographs can be taken to evaluate caries presence between baby teeth.
3. Children in this age group generally can start receiving dental cleanings, radiographs, and check ups in dental chair and environment.
4. Advise mother of changing dentition ie lower front teeth and adult molars.
5. Sealants are placed on biting surfaces of adult molars.
1. Patient's teeth and bite are evaluated for early orthodontic treatment.
2. Evaluate patient's dental and facial development.
1. Patients are checked for wisdom teeth.
2. If patient is active in sports, mouth guards are recommended and could be made in office.
3. Evaluate patient's diet as they become more independent.