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Your Child's First Visit

When should my child first see a dentist, and why?

The ideal time as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry is at approximately one year of age. This is an ideal time for the dentist to carefully examine the development of your child's mouth, because dental problems often start early, the sooner the visit the better. To safeguard against problems such as baby bottle tooth decay, teething irritations, gum disease, and prolonged thumb-sucking, the dentist can provide or recommend special preventive care.

How do I prepare my child and myself for the visit?

Talk to your child about what to expect, and build excitement as well as understanding about the upcoming visit.  Please discuss the positive aspects of dentistry with your child. Convey good feelings to your child about dental visits. Rather than, “the dentist will not hurt you,” try “the dentist will be very gentle.” Expect your child to react well and enjoy the first visit to our office and chances are they will do exactly that.  Bring with you to the appointment any records of your child's complete medical history.

What will happen on the first visit?

Many first visits are nothing more than introductory ice-breakers to acquaint your child with the dentist and the practice.  If the child is frightened, uncomfortable or non-cooperative a rescheduling may be necessary. Patience and calm on the part of the parent and reassuring communication with your child are very important in these instances. Short, successive visits are meant to build the child's trust in the dentist and the dental office, and can prove invaluable if your child needs to be treated later for any dental problem.

Appointments for children should always be scheduled earlier in the day, when your child is alert and fresh. For children under 2years of age the parent may have to sit in the dental chair and hold the child during the examination.  Also, parents may be asked to wait in the reception area so a relationship can be built between your child and the dentist.

The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. This visit gives your child an opportunity to meet the dentist in a non-threatening and friendly way. First, the child will meet our staff.  Then comes a ride in the dentist's chair.  The parent 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 Dr. Olenyn.

During the exam, Dr. Olenyn will check all of your child's existing teeth for decay, examine your child's bite, and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues. If indicated, Dr. Olenyn or a hygienist will clean any teeth and assess the need for fluoride. He will also educate parents about oral health care basics for children and discuss dental developmental issues and answer any questions.

Topics your dentist may discuss with you might include:

  • Good oral hygiene practices for your child's teeth and gums and cavity prevention
  • Fluoride needs
  • Oral habits (thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking)
  • Developmental milestones
  • Teething
  • Proper nutrition
  • Schedule of dental checkups. Many dentists like to see children every 6 months to build up the child's comfort and confidence level in visiting the dentist, to monitor the development of the teeth, and promptly treat any developing problems.

When should the next visit be?

Children, like adults should see the dentist every six months.  Some dentists may schedule interim visits for every three months when the child is very young to build up a comfort and confidence level, or to treat a developing problem.

When Should Children Get Their First Dental X-Ray?

There are no hard-and-fast rules for when to start dental X-rays. Some children who may be at higher risk for dental problems (for example, those prone to baby bottle tooth decay or those with cleft lip/palate) should have X-rays taken earlier than others. Usually, most children will have had X-rays taken by the age of 5 or 6. As children begin to get their adult teeth around the age of 6, X-rays play an important role in helping your dentist. X-rays allow your dentist to see if all of the adult teeth are growing in the jaw, to look for bite problems and to determine if teeth are clean and healthy.

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