Your child’s first visit
Typically, the first “regular” dental visit should be just after your child’s third birthday. The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. We may ask you to sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the examination. 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. Radiographs may be taken to reveal decay and check on the progress of your child’s permanent teeth under the gums. We may clean your child’s teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. Most importantly of all, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth and discuss diet.
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. Your child’s reaction to his first visit to the dentist may surprise you.
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.
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences.
During the first visit the dentist will:
- Examine the mouth, teeth and gums.
- Review radiographs for cavities on erupted teeth and to see development of adult teeth below the gum.
- Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking, check growth pattern.
- Check to see if fluoride is needed.
- Teach about cleaning 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 educate parents and children on diet, home-care, and regular dental visits that include radiographs when appropriate. Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing. 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.
Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. The longer it takes your child to chew a sticky, chewy type of food; the longer the residue stays on their teeth, the greater the chances of getting cavities.
Every time someone eats, especially something sugary, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria digests the sugars. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities. If the meal or snack is finished in 20 minutes, the acid environment recovers and the threat of a cavity diminishes. But if consumption continues, so does the acid attack. We often see more cavities in patients who like to snack or who continuously sip on sodas or other sugary beverages.
Be sure to read labels on food and drinks to look for sugar in the ingredients. Sugar comes in many forms such as: high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar syrup, cane crystals, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, and corn syrup solids.
We may suggest applying a dental sealant to protect your child’s posterior chewing teeth. Dental sealants are a type of resin restoration that fills in deep grooves on the chewing surfaces of decay-prone back teeth that are difficult to clean.
At the child’s appointment, one of our experienced hygienists will review proper brushing and flossing techniques with both parent AND child.
Regular Dental Visits
We encourage regular dental visits! Regularly seeing your child allows us to intervene quickly before bad habits have a detrimental effect. Typically a child is seen every 6 months for a routine hygiene visit. If your child has extensive treatment that is needed, Dr. Chad Colson or Dr. Jill Colson may recommend your child see a pediatric dentist.
Tips for cavity prevention at home
- Avoid frequent snacking and sipping of any drink other than water.
- Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
- Avoid sugary drinks like soda, iced tea, lemonade, fruit juices or sports drinks. Choose water.
- 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. Next to follow will be the 4 upper front teeth 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 1/2 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.