What To Expect At Your Child’s First Dental Appointment
Most dentists will recommend that you bring your child in for their first dental visit between 2 1/2 years and three years of age. By that time your child has had most of his or her primary teeth come in. Initially the pediatric dentist will do a complete exam, evaluating the condition of your child’s teeth and gums. The dentist will check the teeth for cavities, position, and formation. They will also examine the gum tissue and general oral health. The bite relationship will be evaluated to determine development patterns.
If your child is comfortable with the initial exam and is tolerating the procedure, the dentist or dental hygienist will clean your child’s teeth, give the a fluoride treatment to strengthen the enamel and talk to them about brushing techniques. Usually, they will demonstrate brushing on a plastic model so that your child will be able to see how to brush all areas of his or her mouth.
They will also encourage your child to let Mommy or Daddy brush their teeth as well as brushing by themselves. It is very important that you as the parent spend time brushing your child’s teeth and then allow the child to brush for a while after you are finished. One of the best ways to get your child to let you brush is with the use of an egg, hourglass type, timer. The parent gets to brush the child’s teeth and the child can focus on the timer, then the timer is turned over and the child is allowed to brush while the timer continues to drop.
Usually the dentist will not take x-rays on a child until they are 3/12 or 4, unless they see definite evidence of cavities. X-rays will reveal cavities found between the teeth that are not visible otherwise, the larger panoramic x-ray is often taken around the time your child loses his or her first baby tooth. This x-ray will show all of the developing teeth and evidence of unusual changes in the supporting bone and jaws.
Finally, the dentist or hygienist will discuss your child’s diet. It is important to consider what types of drinks and snacks that your child typically consumes. Obviously sugary snacks and soda pop is good to avoid, but some things that we as parents think are healthy, have a great deal of hidden sugar and/or acid that can cause dental cavities. Frequent use of juices and fruit snacks will expose your child to too much sugar. Drinking milk immediately before bedtime can be a problem. Sports drinks contain more acid that soda pop, therefore dissolving the enamel and starting the decay process. Encouraging your child to drink water and eat whole fruits and raw vegetables will be the beginning of a good habit that can last a lifetime.