Making those first trips to the dentist near me can be anxiety-inducing for kids and parents! But it's important to start children on the path of good oral health from a young age. So, when is the right time for your child's first dental visit?
Most dental professionals recommend bringing babies in for their inaugural checkup around their first birthday or when they get their first teeth. Getting an early start with pediatric dentistry in Pomona, CA
, sets the tone that dental visits are a normal part of health and hygiene. Examinations also allow dentists to monitor for early signs of tooth decay, gum disease, orthodontic issues like improper bites, and other potential problems.
Why See a Pediatric vs. General Dentist?
While some family dentists treat patients of all ages, there are good reasons to bring your young children to practitioners who specialize in pediatric dentistry. Kid's dentists receive two to three years of additional training beyond dental school. This concentrates their education and experience solely on kids' oral health needs from infancy through the teen years.
Some of the reasons pediatric specialists stand out:
They're kid-friendly! Everything from their office environment to their patient manner is tailored for little ones. They move slowly, use child-sized instruments, and know techniques to put kids at ease.
They understand child development. Pediatric dentists know what to expect at different ages regarding cooperation, attention spans, and comprehension. They tailor visits and instructions accordingly.
They're trained to handle special needs. Children with developmental delays, anxiety disorders, complex medical conditions, and other unique needs benefit from pediatric dentists' additional training in supportive, customized care.
For kids prone to dental fears and anxiety, the specialized approach of a pediatric professional is invaluable in nurturing a positive relationship with oral healthcare.
What Happens at a Child's First Dental Appointment?
Wondering what to expect from your child's inaugural dental visit? While every dentist has their style, here are some things that commonly happen:
The dentist thoroughly inspects the mouth to get familiar with alignment, bite, and the state of the teeth and gums. They'll count teeth and check for any defects.
They may do toothbrushing and polishing demonstrations to educate parents on proper techniques. Proper brushing from the start helps prevent decay.
For very young patients, the first appointment focuses on observation and becoming comfortable in the office environment. Once the child is older, the dentist can provide fluoride treatments to strengthen enamel.
The dentist will discuss diet and habits like pacifier use or thumb-sucking, which can impact tooth alignment. They'll provide guidance tailored to the child's age and development.
They'll establish a treatment plan in the future with recommendations for follow-up appointments based on the child's specific health profile and risk factors for decay or orthodontic issues.
While exams are the priority, many pediatric dentists make that first visit fun. They'll offer stickers, prizes, certificates, and happy distractions to associate the dentist with a positive experience.
How Can You Prepare Your Child for the First Visit?
Here are a few methods to prep kids ahead of time and make their debut dental trip smooth and stress-free:
Read books and pretend. Find kids' books about going to the dentist and read them alongside other stories before bedtime. This normalizes the concept. You can also roleplay dentist visits with stuffed animals or dolls.
Avoid scare words. Don't use frightening language like "hurt," "shot," "drill," or "pull" when talking about the dentist. Keep the conversation positive.
Practice exams at home. Get kids comfortable with having their teeth looked at by doing pretend exams at home, using a flashlight as the dentist's "special light." Praise cooperation.
Have an older sibling model. Schedule your older child's dental visit before the younger one's. Seeing their brave older brother or sister in the exam chair demystifies the experience.
Take a test run. Stop by the dental office a few days before the appointment so your child can meet staff and explore the friendly office environment in advance.
Should Primary Teeth Get Fillings if They Decay?
A common question is whether parents should invest in baby teeth fillings, knowing they will eventually fall out. But while primary teeth are temporary, they are crucial placeholders that maintain proper spacing and alignment. Allowing decay to spread can lead to infection, damage underlying permanent tooth buds, or even tooth loss.
So yes, decay in primary teeth should be treated with fillings. Other options, like crowns, may be recommended for extensive decay to protect the tooth's integrity. Extracting primary teeth prematurely when neighboring teeth are still present can cause crowded or misaligned permanent teeth. It takes a pediatric dentist's expertise to determine appropriate measures for restoring damaged baby teeth until they are ready to fall out independently.
Starting oral health early through pediatric dentistry fosters a lifetime of good habits. Schedule your child's first dental visit by their first birthday for the best start! Don't hesitate to contact your local dental clinic near you
in Pomona, CA. Ask Pomona Dental Practice
with any other questions about your child's oral health needs.