Your child’s first visit
We love working with children and pride ourselves on helping children experience pleasant, successful appointments. We call it CHILDREN’S DENTISTRY MADE FUN. Although a majority of our pediatric cases are managed well without sedation, our office offers sedation for children who need it as early as age 2. One of the greatest benefits of sedating very anxious children is avoiding the development of dental phobia as adults. We have consistently seen this result in our patients over the last 28 years.
Children are very perceptive. If you are genuinely calm in coming to the dentist for your cleaning appointments, we encourage parents to bring their very young children for the parent’s cleaning appointments so that the child can become comfortable watching a non-threatening, preventative visit to the dentist.
Your child’s first “regular” dental visit should be just after age three.
If your child has developed a habit of sleeping with a bottle or walking around with a sippy cup containing anything but water, the child’s first visit should be at age two in order to screen for the very destructive pattern of bottle mouth cavities. Constantly bathing the teeth with milk or juices via a bottle or sippy cup habit (as opposed to drinking it with a meal) very predictably produces extensive decay and should be avoided. The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment, such as a cleaning and exam. We may ask you to sit in the dental chair and hold your child in your lap during the examination, as slightly anxious children are sometimes more comforted. You may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist.
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). Our office has a panograph, which is a very child-friendly means of obtaining x-rays without needing to place anything in their mouth. We may clean your child’s teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. We will make sure your child is receiving adequate 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 are asked this question many times. We suggest you prepare your child the same way you would before their first haircut or trip to the shoe store. Keep it positive! Tell your child we are going to count their teeth and clean their teeth. You can practice counting their teeth and helping them brush. Be careful not to convey any fears you may or may not have. You can depend on us to work very hard to make their visit fun. With five children of his own, Dr. Moussalli understands making children comfortable.
Here are some “First Visit” tips:
- Take your child for a “preview” of the office.
- 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 without getting too detailed. For example, “He will count your teeth and clean them, and he is very nice”.
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences.
During the first visit the dentist will:
- Examine the mouth, teeth and gums.
- Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking.
- Check to see if he/she needs fluoride.
- Teach about cleaning the teeth and gums.
- Suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.
What about preventative care?
Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand. At our office we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. We use the latest in dental sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. Dental sealants are a thin, protective film of very strong composite bonding material that are bonded to the decay-prone pits and grooves of back teeth. This is just one of the ways we will set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.
Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods, and a lack of brushing. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. Also of great importance is limiting their intake of soft drinks, which are highly acidic and a major cause of decay. This applies to diet and regular pop for both children and adults.
Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as bacteria digest the sugars. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment is harming tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities. This is why it is important to brush immediately after eating.
Tips for cavity prevention
- Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
- Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
- Watch what your child drinks, especially in their bottles and sippy cups.
- Avoid giving your child sticky foods.
- Make treats part of meals.
- Choose nutritious snacks.
The first baby teeth that come into the mouth are the two bottom front teeth. You will notice this when your baby is about 6-8 months old. The 4 upper front teeth come in next and the remainder of your baby’s teeth will appear periodically. They will usually appear in pairs along the sides of the jaw until the child is about 2 1/2 years old.
At around 2 1/2to 3 years old your child should have all 20 teeth. Between the ages of 5 and 6 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.
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.