One of the top ten questions we are asked by patients is, "When should I bring my child in for their first dental visit?" Parents are getting conflicting advice. Pediatricians are recommending children see dentists with their first tooth, which is good advice. That's what the textbooks say, too. It seems, though, that the majority of general dentists recommend that a child be three years old. There is something about the difference in manageability between a 1-year old and a 3-year old. Is that best for the child?
Recently, I had to modify my own personal position on this matter. Two different three-year-old children came in to our office on two separate days. Both were good little boys. One had seven cavities and the other had tooth decay in each of his 20 little teeth. Both of these little boys were a sad sight. I know that the majority of that decay could have been avoided.
The goal of bringing a small child into the dentist is primarily to have a good experience in what can be a scary place. Masked people running around, chairs that lay back on their own power, sharp instruments and gagging can be very scary to children. Everything tastes bad and feels weird and if the child's first visit is because of dental pain, that feeling of pain and loss of control will last a lifetime.
Here are some tips for making the appointment successful:
The First Appointment
During the first appointment dentists and hygienists take into consideration the child's needs and how important each procedure is for them. It may be that the child gets to ride in the chair and that's it! We do take X-rays on children. And while primary teeth are replaced at some point, they are vitally important for the time they are in the mouth.
If you are a parent and have a lot of active decay, schedule your child for a dental examination. The germs that cause cavities are transmissible; that is, dental decay is a contagious disease. If the parent has a lot of decay, the chances are good that the child has or will have it too.
Prevention is our specialty, and if we get a child early enough we can apply fluoride varnishes or catch the cavities when they are very small and virtually painless. If the child is under three, take them to a pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist is much more prepared for the needs of a small child with a single tooth.
If you need a dentist who is good with children, call us at 1-866-970-0441. We'll put you in touch with a great dentist today!