The Who's and What's of your first Pediatric Dental Appointment

One question that we seem to hear from other Moms on a regular basis is “when should you schedule your child’s first dentist appointment?” Kids teeth come in at various ages, so it’s hard to pinpoint when your child should visit the dentist. My oldest started cutting teeth at 3 months, the twins didn’t have a tooth even close to poking through until they were almost a year.. Where is the common ground there?

We spoke with Pediatric Dentist Michael Vann, of Vann Pediatric Dental in Trussville, to get a better idea on how to navigate the the complicated waters of keeping those pearly whites healthy from the very beginning.

One common rule among Pediatric Dentists is that One + One = Zero. No this is not some crazy new math, it means that 1 baby tooth + One Pediatric Dentist visit = Zero Cavities. Your first dental visit is mostly educational. While this “well baby” check is for the baby, it does help set a guideline with the parents to make sure that they help their children remain cavity-free.

AAPD, recommends beginning a dental routine at birth, cleaning your baby’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or wet washcloth daily. Once teeth are visible, brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste using a soft, age-specific toothbrush. The AAPD recommends using a “smear” amount of toothpaste for children less than 2 years old and a “pea-sized” amount for children 2 to 5 years old. Your child’s first visit to the dentist should be before age 1 for early detection and prevention of dental problems.

What to expect from your child’s first visit:
For the first visit, your child may do great, they may be a little fussy, or they may be totally uncooperative. These are all normal for the first few visits. Each child develops and reacts differently. It’s important to find an office that works in partnership with the parent/caregiver to help your child overcome their fear and start to enjoy the dentist.  Sometimes it takes one or more visits for your child to understand the dentist office can be fun and exciting for everyone.

Typically a first visit includes an exam, cleaning and fluoride.  The doctor will perform an exam on the teeth, gums, and bite.   X-rays may or may not be necessary.  The doctor will spend much of the time discussing the findings and educating the patient and parent.  Dr. Vann encourages patients and parents to ask any questions they may have during or after their visit.

As adults, we have to be very careful not to influence our children or project our fears of the dentist on to them. So no matter how you feel about the Dentist, try to remember that your children will take their cues from you. If they overhear you say you hate the Dentist, chances are they will be less cooperative too.

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