Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist
The first “regular” dental visit should be just after your child’s first birthday. The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. We may ask you to sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the examination.
Having a well-baby checkup at this age connects your child to a dental home. This is a “home base” for dental care, a place where you can take your child from year to year. This helps the dentist get to know your child’s and your family’s specific needs, so he or she can provide the best care.
If your child is a toddler, Dr Reilly will gently examine their teeth and gums, looking for decay and other problems. If necessary, the child’s teeth may be cleaned. Your toddler can also be checked for problems related to habits such as prolonged thumb or finger sucking.
Two more important ways Dr Reilly can prevent cavities include fluoride treatments and dental sealants, a coating that protects the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Dr Reilly will let you know if these treatments are right for your child.
Each child has different oral health needs. But it’s almost always true that preventive care from your dentist can save time, money and teeth. Dr Reilly will recommend a schedule for your child’s dental visits.
What should I tell my child about the first dental visit
We are asked this question many times. We suggest you prepare your child the same way you would before their first haircut or trip to the shoe store. Your child’s reaction to his first visit to the dentist may surprise you.
Tips for a Positive Dental Visit
- Schedule your child’s first visit between the arrival of the first tooth and his or her first birthday.
- If possible, schedule a morning appointment when children tend to be rested and cooperative.
- Stay positive! The dentist will help to keep your child’s teeth healthy; keep to yourself any anxiety that you might feel about dental visits.
- Never bribe your child to go to the dentist or use the visit as a punishment or threat!
- Finally, try to make your child’s dental visit an enjoyable outing. Teaching your child good oral hygiene habits early can lead to a lifetime of good dental health.
During your first visit the dentist will:
- Examine your mouth, teeth and gums.
- Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking.
- Check to see if you need fluoride.
- Teach you about cleaning your teeth and gums.
- Suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.
What about preventative care?
Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand. At our office we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. We use the latest in dental sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. Dental sealants are bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay-prone back teeth. This is just one of the ways we will set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.
Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. The longer it takes your child to chew their food and the longer the residue stays on their teeth, the greater the chances of getting cavities.
Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria digests the sugars. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities.
Consistency of a person’s saliva also makes a difference; thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. When a person eats diets high in carbohydrates and sugars they tend to have thicker saliva, which in turn allows more of the acid-producing bacteria that can cause cavities.
Tips for Cavity Prevention
- Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
- Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
- Watch what your child drinks.
- Avoid giving your child sticky foods.
- Make treats part of meals.
- Choose nutritious snacks.
The first baby teeth that come into the mouth are the two bottom front teeth. You will notice this when your baby is about 6-8 months old. Next to follow will be the 4 upper front teeth and the remainder of your baby’s teeth will appear periodically. They will usually appear in pairs along the sides of the jaw until the child is about 2 1/2 years old.
At around 2 1/2 years old your child should have all 20 teeth. Between the ages of 5 and 6 the first permanent teeth will begin to erupt. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth and some don’t. Don’t worry if some teeth are a few months early or late as all children are different.
Baby teeth are important as they not only hold space for permanent teeth but they are important to chewing, biting, speech and appearance. For this reason it is important to maintain a healthy diet and daily hygiene.