Dental Topics

Your First Visit

At what age should my child visit the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend that a visit to the dentist should be scheduled by the child's first birthday. At this young age problems can be detected, treated early, or avoided completely. More importantly, it can help establish a positive relationship between your child and the dentist.

If your child has Medicaid, you are able to participate in the exciting new first dental home program. This program allows you to bring your child at 6 months of age and every 3 months until the age of three. 

Not only does this first visit help you take better care of your child's teeth, it also helps to familiarize your child to our surroundings. The first visit is certainly more pleasant when it is a planned familiarization appointment rather than one made for traumatic injury or a toothache. 

What will happen during my child's first visit?

One of our specialized pediatric dentists will examine your child's teeth and gums, checking for decay and other problems or abnormalities in the mouth. Your child's bite, proper alignment of jaws, and spacing for permanent teeth will also be evaluated.

X-rays may be taken to evaluate for hidden decay, position and location of the developing permanent teeth. We will also discuss potential problems such as nursing decay, pacifier and thumb-sucking habits. Dr. Baker and her team will advise you on a program of preventive health care including brushing, flossing, proper nutrition, and the use of fluoride.

These are frequently asked questions and comments that we will review with you upon your child's first visit.

  • Should I be brushing already?
  • Does my child need fluoride?
  • What is the easiest way to hold my child so I can brush their teeth?
  • My child does not let me brush their teeth!
  • When should I stop the bottle?
  • Is a pacifier bad?
  • Is a thumb sucking habit bad?
  • Can I safely use a sippy cup?
  • Does breast milk cause tooth decay?
  • What do I tell my child about seeing the dentist?

Please remember when discussing a dental visit with your child, never frighten your child or threaten them with going to the dentist. Tell them that the dentist is a friendly doctor who will help them take care of their teeth. Talk about the visit in a positive matter of fact way, as you would any important new experience. Do not use words like shots, needles, pull, hurt or drill. Finally, if you are apprehensive about going to the dentist try not to let your child know. Apprehensive parents are the primary cause of apprehensive children. A visit to the dentist should be a delightful adventure for a young child.

How often should regular visits be scheduled?

Ordinarily, periodic recall appointments, which include an examination, preventive dental education, cleaning and fluoride treatments, will be recommended twice a year. The frequency of dental visits will partly depend on your child's eating habits; how clean his or her teeth are kept; and if he/she has a history of dental decay.

Do I stay with my child during the visit?

We do allow and encourage parents back for all exam and checkup visits. This is important time for the entire family for exchanging information, developing trust and teaching about oral health.  

We do ask that you allow your child to accompany our staff through the dental experience when treatment is needed. We are highly experienced in helping children overcome anxiety. Separation anxiety is not uncommon in children, and although this can be very stressful for parents, please try not to be concerned if your child exhibits some negative behavior. This is normal and will soon diminish. Studies and experience have shown that most children over the age of 3 react more positively when permitted to experience the dental visit on their own and in an environment designed for children.  If your child does have prolonged separation or treatment anxiety, we will always stop and discuss options with you.

Under no circumstance would our office ever use a restraining wrap on your child without your involvement. There are times that a child is able to better cope with a parent present.  When this is the case or if you feel the need to be present during treatment, we will be happy to discuss this with you and do what is best for your child.  We do have special appointment times reserved when a parent is to be present and so we ask that this discussion take place PRIOR to your child’s treatment day to avoid delays or rescheduling. 

Other siblings and photos or videos will not be allowed in treatment areas during procedures.

Children's behavior in the dental office:

Pleasant visits to the dental office help a child establish trust and confidence that will last a lifetime. Pediatric dentists and their staff have been specially trained to help young, apprehensive children feel good about seeing the dentist and taking care of their teeth.

Friendly, compassionate professionals and bright, cheerful office surroundings are all there to help your child feel comfortable and at ease with visiting the dentist.

We recommend scheduling younger children in the morning, when they are more rested and cooperative.

Our entire dental vocabulary is geared toward children so as not to make their first dental visits so scary. During this visit, depending on your child's age, we will take "Pictures" (x-rays), count their teeth with the "Tooth Counter" (explorer) and use the "Barbie Mirror" to check for "Sugar Bugs" (cavities). If possible we may use the "Tooth Tickler" (prophy angle) to clean their teeth and "Mr. Thirsty" (suction) to remove "Tooth Polish" (prophy paste) and "Tooth Vitamins" (fluoride). 

We will never lie to a child but we will use words and descriptions that will prepare them for frightening sounds, feelings or smells. Our entire staff is trained in a behavior technique known as Tell-Show- Do. It works great, and there are no surprises!