A Positive First Visit
We are happy to welcome children to our office for their first dental visit. In general, children should come for their first visit to the dentist by age 2, but once a child’s first teeth appear you should begin brushing their teeth and take your child in as soon as they are old enough to understand instructions about sitting in a chair and holding their mouth open for the dentist.
For your child’s first dental visit, we will focus on ensuring they have positive associations with our office. They will go on a brief tour of the office and will meet their dentist and hygienist. Their dentist will just look inside their mouth, no poking or scraping or tools of any kind other than a light and maybe a mirror.
Our goals for the first visit include:
- A brief exam
- Discussion of habits that can have negative consequences, including night feeding and thumb sucking
- A review of oral hygiene for your child
- Evaluation of your child’s tooth development, including an evaluation of their fluoride needs
- Discussion of schedule for dental visits
It shouldn’t take long for the first visit, hopefully not too much longer than your child’s ability to behave themselves in our office.
Family Dentistry and Your Child’s First Teeth
Many people think that since your child’s first teeth are going to fall out anyway, there’s no need to take care of them. However, there are many good reasons to take care of these teeth, because:
- Baby teeth hold places for adult teeth and encourage jaw development
- Oral hygiene habits established early will help later
- Infections of baby teeth and gums can affect developing teeth and overall health
- Baby teeth help with speech development
To help protect your child’s teeth, we will talk about some of the causes of tooth decay. All tooth decay is caused by acid that is excreted by oral bacteria living in the mouth. These bacteria eat mostly sugars and simple carbohydrates, and they will usually consume all that’s available from a meal in about 20 minutes, after which time the pH in the mouth returns to neutral and the minerals in saliva can repair damage to the teeth.
But if your child eats frequently, the amount of damage done to the teeth is more than the minerals in saliva can repair. Sticky foods are bad, too, because they give off a slow release of sugar that can feed oral bacteria for longer.
Acidic drinks, especially pop, can also lower the pH in your child’s mouth and contribute to tooth decay.
But with proper oral hygiene and good eating habits, you can help ensure the body’s protective mechanisms overcome the damaging effects of oral bacteria so your child develops few, if any, cavities.