There are varying recommendations as to when the first pediatric dentistry visit should Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children should have their baby teeth looked at by a pediatric dentist within six months of the eruption of the first tooth or no later than one year of age.
The American Academy of General and Pediatric Dentistry recommends between 18 and 24 months of age the child should have their baby teeth seen, unless there is an apparent problem. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a child be seen by age three, or sooner if there is a need.
Although there may not be many baby teeth to examine at one year of age, the first pediatric dentistry visit can provide parents with valuable information regarding care and prevention through education and counseling. Infants can be infected with the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Many children have decay in baby teeth by the time they are seven years old.
The infant oral health appointment will include:
Traumatic injuries to the mouth occur more often as the child progresses through crawling, walking, and running. If the first visit has already occurred, the parent has a doctor who is familiar with the child to call for emergency pediatric dentistry care.
The sooner your child is acquainted with a pediatric dentist and experiences a pediatric dentistry examination, the better for his or her overall perception of the dental visit. The child's temperament will determine how the appointment goes. Do not delay the first visit because you believe your child will not cooperate. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Make the first pediatric dentistry appointment as early in the day as possible. Toddlers are usually more rested in the morning. Try not to communicate your own fears, if any to your child. Your interpretations and expectations are different from your child's. Practice with your child's head on your lap. Depending on the age, explain how he or she should open wide, talk about the little mirror, the tooth counter, and Mr. Clean, who will make the baby teeth shine.
Avoid words such as hurt, drill, or shot. Do not expect too much from your child. The pediatric dentist will manage the behavior with age-appropriate expectations. A favorite toy or blanket can be taken with the child to hold. Some offices offer a "First Visit" videotape to be viewed at home prior to the visit. The book, Going to the Dentist, by Fred Rogers, is a great way to introduce the first visit. Here's to a wonderful first pediatric dentistry visit for your little "First Timer!"
by Jane A. Soxman, DDS