Your child’s first visit
The first “regular” dental visit should be around your child’s third birthday.
Earlier, when the first baby teeth come in it is good to discuss with Dr. Fletcher or our Dental Hygienists how to properly care for your baby’s teeth. The first actual 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.
We will gently examine your child’s teeth and gums. X-rays may be taken (to reveal decay and check on the progress of your child’s permanent teeth under the gums). We may clean your child’s teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. We will discuss good dental diet and nutrition and make sure your child is receiving the recommended amount of fluoride at home. Most important of all, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth.
What should I tell my child about the first dental visit?
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/her first visit to the dentist may surprise you. Avoid telling them about negative experiences as this can make them too worried.
Here are some “First Visit” tips:
- Take your child for a “preview” of the office. Bringing your child when you come for your check up is a way to do this.
- Read books with them about going to the dentist.
- Review with them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences.
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 in children should rarely happen now days. At our office we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. Dental sealants are protective coatings that are bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay-prone permanent back teeth. This is just one of the ways we will set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.
Most tooth decay in children is due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help.
Every time your child 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. Soda (regular and diet), Sports drinks add sugar and acid to their mouth.
- Limit chewy, sticky foods.
- Make treats part of meals.
- Choose nutritious snacks.
The first baby teeth that come into the mouth are usually the two bottom front teeth. You will notice this when your baby is about 6-8 months old. Don’t be too concerned if they are slow, some don’t get theirs until nearly a year old. At around 3 years old your child should have all 20 baby teeth.
Between the ages of 5 and 8 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. Regular dental visits in childhood is important to detect disease and developmental problems early. It also has a huge benefit of teaching them how important their oral health is and allows us to reinforce this to them too.
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.