With the whirlwind of growth and lengthy list of check-ups that happen during a child’s first year, adding a “visit to the dentist” on your list might not be a top priority. But, the team at Dentistry for Kids — along with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatrics, strongly recommend that your baby see a dentist around their first birthday (or within 6 months after their first tooth pops!).

“As parents, we want our children to have healthy smiles, and we want them to enjoy going to the dentist,” says Courtney Bisset, dental hygienist at Dentistry for Kids. “The Age ONE visit allows parents to have one on one time with the dentist and/or hygienist so they can review concerns and ask questions. It also provides the staff the opportunity to educate parents on the prevention of dental disease with a special focus on diet, fluoride use, and oral hygiene habits.”

Most importantly – this visit introduces your child to the dentist’s office as a safe, fun place to visit! Parents and children can establish an early “dental home” to which they can turn to for emergencies or problems.

Making the First Dental Visit FUN!

Creating a fun experience for kids is serious business for the team at Dentistry for Kids. That is why you should consider taking your child to a pediatric dentist rather than scheduling an appointment with your own dental provider. Pediatric Dentists spend an extra two or three years after graduating dental school to train in this specialty and know how to treat very young children.

“The treatment of children is different than that of adults. Would you take your child to your doctor for their routine medical care? Not likely. It is the same in dentistry,” states Dr. Shari Kohn.

“The way we complete dentistry is totally different than it is for adults,” adds Dr. Melena Evancho. “We take our time to talk to the kids and show them how we are going to proceed before ever touching their teeth. We use puppets, tooth models and kid-friendly language to make them comfortable.”

It’s not that the dental care is so different for kids than adults (although baby teeth are quite different than adult teeth) — it’s really about how the pediatric dental team interacts with their young patients. They only use kid-friendly terms in the office. They use prizes, games, movies and creative means to get treatment completed while the children are comfortable and happy. They are also not above bribery!

“If it makes a positive experience and creates a sense of FUN, then we’re all in!” says Courtney.

What Should You Expect During a First Year Dental Visit

The first visit typically consists of some personal time with the clinical staff (either the doctor or the hygienist) so that they can review your child’s medical and dental needs, address your concerns, talk freely about what the visit will be like, and address how the team at Dentistry for Kids can help your child feel comfortable and successful on their first visit. They want the visit to be enjoyable for your child, and informative for you as the parent.

Often, initial exams for younger ones start on the parent’s lap (a knee to knee examination). To help prepare your child for this, you can practice brushing while laying your child down.

Be prepared that your child may make “noise” during the visit (this is code for fussy!). It’s ok and certainly age appropriate. Your pediatric dentist understands this, and will do their best to comfort and even distract your child so that they can complete a thorough evaluation.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a safe and enjoyable place in which your child’s oral health can be maintained. This care includes a thorough evaluation of their teeth and gums, a dental cleaning, and most often a fluoride treatment. So, if that takes more stickers, more creative songs, more time – – than that’s what they’ll do!

Tips for Making the First Visit a Success

Take time to prepare your child for their visit.

This helps them feel more comfortable while they are there! Don’t be afraid to look into your child’s mouth – make a game of it like peek-a-boo. Use a washcloth or an infant toothbrush so that your child will get used to having someone in their mouth. Spend time reading books about going to the dentist. If they are old enough to understand, talk about what they can expect at the visit. Use child-friendly language so your child feels comfortable. Dentistry for Kids has a great video about going to the dentist.

Practice brushing while laying your child down.

As mentioned above, a first dental visit will likely be a lap exam. So practice before you go! You can do this on your lap, on the floor, on a bed or even on the couch! This is the best way for the dentist to see inside your child’s mouth. Practice with a flashlight or a head lamp – whatever it takes.

Focus on the Positives.

Dentistry for kids always encourages parents to focus on the positives – and for kids often times it is the PRIZES they win when they are finished. Feel free to remind them of the rewards they’ll receive when they visit!

Need more information? Check out this awesome informative article from Parents.com or visit Dentistry for Kids website.

Pajama Story Time with the Tooth Fairy

PJ Storytime with the Tooth Fairy!

Looking for fun way to introduce your child to the dentist? Join us for PJ Storytime with the Tooth Fairy at Dentistry for Kids on May 1st at 6:30pm! REGISTER NOW

Editor’s Note: This article is sponsored by Dentistry for Kids, who wanted to hep educate parents about the importance of the first year dental check-up! For more information about them, please visit their listing in our Health & Wellness Directory. Photos by Laura Black.