When Should Your Child Have His or Her First Visit to the Dentist?

In the whirlwind of caring for a young child, parents wonder when is the right time for the first trip to the dentist. At Deer Park Dental, we pride ourselves on our children’s pediatric dentistry services — they’re quite different than adult dentistry, after all — where it’s our goal to get your children started down the path of a lifetime of healthy smiles.

The first dental visit should coincide with the eruption of the child’s first tooth, usually before the first birthday. Like adults, the American Dental Association recommends that children see their dentist every six months to achieve optimal dental health. In the first couple years, absent any problems, we may recommend a visit one time per year until age 3.

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What is pediatric dentistry?

Pediatric dentistry, commonly known as pedodontics, targets the oral health of children from birth until adolescence. There is an art to pediatric dentistry, acknowledging a child’s misgivings about going to the dentist, while at the same time performing the evaluations needed. A large part of our dental care is also educational, showing children the value of proper dental care along with the nuts and bolts of how to do it. Of course, if early intervention is needed to correct dental problems, we take care of that, too.

There are new innovations in dental care for children that can be less traumatic, less invasive and even less expensive. Our goal is to make your child’s visit as happy as possible. Positive experiences as a child will lead to better oral health compliance as an adult.

What should I use in cleaning my child’s baby teeth?

Your baby won’t have enough teeth to brush using a regular toothbrush, so we recommend using a specifically designed soft-bristled infant toothbrush. With this soft toothbrush, you will brush the baby’s teeth and gums once or twice a day. This will prevent the buildup of bacteria and plaque that can lead to cavities. Prior to the teeth coming in, a soft clean wet cloth can be used to rub over the gums to get the child used to checking his or her mouth.

My child still sucks his thumb and uses a pacifier. Would this affect his teeth?

Thumb sucking and pacifier sucking are normal self-comforting behaviors in very small children. But if allowed to continue for too long, they can lead to dental problems. Normally, children grow out of these habits on their own, but if they persist until your child is three years old, we may recommend the use of a mouth appliance to counter this problem.

What do we do if my child is too scared to go to the dentist from past experiences or anxiety?

Here at Deer Park Dental we first spend a lot of time getting to know your child and showing the child around the dental operatory to be more comfortable. We also start with simple easy tasks as brushing. If your child is anxious about dental treatment, we have the option of nitrous oxide (a conscious sedation that relaxes the child then often allows them to have a procedure done with less anxiety). If a child is uncooperative or scared, we have the option of general sedation with a specialist administering the anesthesia while Dr. Scott treats the patient’s dental needs.

What happens at the first visit and after the first visit?

The first visit is an examination, oral hygiene instruction, cleaning and x-rays as needed with the Doctor. After this visit and subsequent visits, your child will see the dental hygienist for a cleaning with the Dr. checking the patient at each visit.

Will my child see the dental hygienist?

We, at Deer Park Dental, recommend a dental hygienist to see your child at each visit for a cleaning followed by an examination by the Dr. Some children build up soft plaque and some children can build up heavy tarter or calculus at a very early age. It is important that each child be examined and the teeth cleaned thoroughly to his or her needs so that periodontal problems do not develop. Yes children can get inflamed gums and even bone loss at an early age.

Will my child have a good happy visit?

We do everything we can to make your child’s visit a happy one. It is important for the parent and siblings to talk positively about the upcoming visit to the child. This will more likely help them to be excited about the visit instead of being scared. If you child is anxious during the first visit, we will limit treatment and discuss options for a great dental visit for your child. We look forward to helping create happy memories for your child at Deer Park Dental.