Our office, as well as the The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend a dental visit for children by the first birthday, or soon thereafter.
The goal of this visit is to establish a “dental home” for your child, a one stop shop for everything related to oral health. This allows oral heath care to be delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated and family centered way, whether it’s for emergency or routine care.
The First Visit Starts at Home
A good attitude is always a step in the right direction. For kids, this starts with the parents at home, prior to coming to our office. Parents can help by recognizing their own attitudes about the first visit, which for some parents, may include fear or anxiety. Pediatric dentistry may have changed since you were a child It’s important that you do not tell negative stories about your visits to the dentist in front of your child. Children are very perceptive and certain to pick up on your attitude towards the dentist so remain positive about their appointment.
Explain to your child things such as “Dr. Ray is going to count and brush your teeth,” “He will count your teeth using a special tooth mirror” and “He may take pictures of your teeth to make sure they are healthy.” There are several books you can read together such as The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist, Max Goes to the Dentist by Adria F. Kline, and Dora the Explorer, Show me your Smile! Some find it helpful to play dentist, let your child practice opening wide, letting you look at his/her teeth.
It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as “needle”, “shot”, “pull”, “drill” or “hurt”. As a pediatric dental office we are very careful to explain everything to children using words that are pleasant and non-frightening.
What About After My Child’s First Visit
We invite you to stay with your child through each step of the first visit. You will want to arrive at least 10 minutes prior to your appointment so you can complete any necessary paperwork and allow your child some time to adjust and explore our office.
During your first visit we will gather all the information we need to develop a preventative program unique to your child. We will discuss appropriate home care such as brushing, flossing, diet and fluoride as it relates to your child specifically. Dr. Ray will perform a comprehensivedental exam for each child, identify any risk factors, and discuss their dental caries risk. He will check for any tooth decay, examine their occlusion (bite), evaluate for any dental growth or developmental concerns, and discuss any oral habits such as the thumb, finger or pacifier use.
Dr. Ray will recommend dental xrays only if necessary. For infants and toddlers we typically perform a “knee-to-knee” exam. For this exam, a child sits on your lap and leans back onto a soft pillow resting on Dr. Ray’s knees to complete the examination. This allows parent participation for the exam, and therefore, added comfort for your child. If Dr. Ray determines your child needs dental treatment he will discuss all the options offered in our office and help you make the best choice for your child.
Ready for your first visit? Call High House Pediatric Dentistry today at 919.267.4211 to schedule an appointment. We are looking forward to meeting with you and your family!