One of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “When do I need to take my child to the dentist for their first visit?”
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child be brought to the dentist when their first tooth erupts, or by their first birthday, whatever comes first. If you missed this deadline, please don’t worry. We welcome your visit at any age. We also welcome children of all ages who are new to the Ballwin area!
Plan in Advance
With young children, a doctor’s visit can be an undertaking. I speak from experience. My first piece of advice is to plan in advance. Start by looking for a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists have an additional 2+ years of training after graduating from dental school in childhood growth and development, a small child’s mouth and how that changes as they grow, and what we call behavior management. This means we have studied child psychology and developmental milestones so we can approach the child in a way they will be able to tolerate, and hopefully enjoy!
Pediatric dentists have training and experience working with children with special health care needs. Pediatric dentists also are trained in dealing with cleft lip/cleft palate children and have additional training in sedation dentistry.
The best ways to find a pediatric dentist are to ask your pediatrician, ask a friend, or ask if the office you plan to take your child ONLY sees children. It’s a good idea to ask if the dentist has 2 additional years or more of education in pediatric dentistry after finishing dental school.
Another way to streamline your visit is to fill out forms in advance. At our office, we will direct you to the links in our website. You can then print the forms, fill them out, and bring them with you to your child’s appointment. If you don’t have a chance before you come in, don’t worry, we can do it here too.
It’s also a very good idea to let us know of any concerns you may have prior to your visit. We seek to keep the lines of communication open.
So now you’re ready to go in for their appointment time! What do you need to think about? For young children, I recommend setting the appointment early in the day and to not overlap or get close to nap time and meal time. Set aside an hour for the visit, and bring a list of any medications and anything else you think the dentist may want to know. If you have other children, it can be very helpful to bring another adult to help so you can fully engage with the dentist.
Questions to Ask the Dentist
Below is a list of common questions I get, and questions that you may want to ask during your dental visits:
- Is the toothbrush I’m using okay?
- Should my child be using fluoride? Fluoride toothpaste? Supplements?
- What are some healthy snacks to keep my child cavity free?
- How do I reach the dentist for an after hours emergency?
- What should I do about habits like finger sucking or using a pacifier?
- Are the teeth coming in properly? And at the right time?
- Does my child have a tongue or lip tie?
We cannot wait to see you and your child(ren) and hope that this information will help you to feel empowered and have a wonderful experience. Call us at (636) 527-2779 and we look forward to helping you!