Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist, the “Happy Visit”
The first dental visit, or as we call it, the “happy visit” should be around 3-4 years of age. This dental visit is short and consists of a ride up and down in the chair, we count your child’s teeth and give them a toy from our treasure chest. This is a good opportunity for your child to become familiar with us and feel comfortable opening his or her mouth and allowing us to take a peek inside. 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. In addition, any forms that are required by your child’s school can be completed at this visit as well. From this visit, we can usually determine if your child is ready for a dental cleaning, or if another “happy visit” a little further down the road may be in order. We are happy to provide this service to you as a courtesy, free of charge!
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. Your child’s reaction to his first visit to the dentist may surprise you. Read a book about a child’s first trip to the dentist, talk positively about the dentist to your child. The less of a “big deal” you make of it, the better.
During your child’s first dental cleaning visit the dentist will:
- Examine their mouth, teeth and gums.
- Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking and any dietary concerns, such as sugar intake.
- Check to see if they need fluoride.
- Teach your child about cleaning their 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 use the latest in dental sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. Dental sealants are space-age plastics that are bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay-prone back teeth. This is just one of the ways we will set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.
Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. The longer it takes your child to chew their food and the longer the residue stays on their teeth, the greater the chances of getting cavities.
Every time someone eats, 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.
Consistency of a person’s saliva also makes a difference; thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. When a person eats diets high in carbohydrates and sugars they tend to have thicker saliva, which in turn allows more of the acid-producing bacteria that can cause cavities.
Tips for Cavity Prevention
- Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
- Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
- Watch what your child drinks.
- 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.
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.