Pediatric Dentistry

Video Transcript

The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend a child’s first visit to the dentist coincide with the appearance of a child’s first tooth, typically around 6 months but no later than 1 year of age. These early visits help prevent childhood cavities and help educate caregivers about proper oral hygiene for infants and toddlers.

To get your child ready for a trip to the dentist:

  • Talk about what’s going to happen, but be positive.
  • Don’t tease or tell scary stories.
  • Reading books or watching videos about dentists or oral health may help your child be less fearful and more confident.
  • Don’t schedule an appointment during nap time.

Instead, pick a time your child is usually well rested and cooperative. It’s usually best to not bring other children to the appointment, but if you must, having two adults present is ideal.

On exam day, plan to arrive 15 minutes early to your appointment so your child can acclimate to the new surroundings. If your doctor asks you to complete a health history form for your child, make sure you indicate any medical conditions your child may have, like diabetes, autism, or allergies, and be prepared to provide your pediatrician’s contact information along with any prescription and over the counter medications your child takes.

Typically, your doctor assesses the outside of your child’s mouth to evaluate oral and facial development and the temporomandibular joints inside the mouth.

Signs of tooth decay are looked for along with any sores or bumps on the tongue, inside the cheeks, and on the roof of the mouth. Your child’s periodontal health and bite may also be evaluated.

If there are any stains or deposits on your child’s teeth, your doctor or hygienist may gently scrub the tooth with a wet toothbrush or cloth for removal. If your child seems to be at risk for cavities or other problems, your doctor may apply topical fluoride even before all teeth come in.

Your doctor or hygienist may also demonstrate teeth cleaning methods and other home dental care practices to you and your child.

At some point during the exam, your doctor or hygienist may discuss your child’s use of a pacifier, any thumb sucking, and their drinking and eating habits.

Injuries to the teeth and mouth are common among children, so your doctor may provide injury prevention tips, including what to do in case of an emergency.

If needed, your doctor may request additional diagnostics like x-rays and photographs, or refer specialists who may further evaluate your child.

After the first visit, make sure to schedule regular dental checkups for your child before you leave the office.

A child’s first oral health exam at a dentist’s office is an effective way to begin a lifelong program of preventative dentistry and good health.