“I’d like to schedule a first appointment for my three-year old.” I have heard this request time and time again and most of the time parents are referred by their child’s pediatrician to make this first appointment.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children should be seen by a dentist six months after the first tooth erupts, but no later than the child’s first birthday. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) also recommends that children should specifically see a pediatric dentist. The difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist is similar to a pediatrician and a family doctor. Pediatric dentists have 2-3 years of specialty training that qualifies them to treat children only. They are trained and equipped to care for infants, children through adolescence, and those with special needs.
Bringing your child to the dentist before his or her first birthday allows parents and children to establish a “dental home”. Going to a dentist for the first time during an emergency visit can be overwhelming for both the child and parents, it can result in a negative experience that can hinder progress at later visits to come. Establishing a “dental home” sooner allows the child to be accustomed to the environment, regular procedures, and seeing the dentist to ensure the child is more relaxed and may enjoy future visits. A “dental home” also provides a safe space for the parent(s) to ask questions and get answers concerning preventive care at home, diet recommendations to prevent cavities, and allows the doctor to get to know the family’s specific needs and history to better care for the child(ren).
TIPS for the First Visit in our Office
- Make the visit in the morning – younger children are typically seen in the morning when the private rooms are available, and your child is well rested.
- Never make “going to the dentist” as a punishment – when coming to our office is seen as a punishment, it’ll make it harder to bring them in twice a year and to those emergency appointments.
- Schedule older children before younger children – when scheduling an appointment for your younger child (especially for the first visit or for those who need more attention and care) we find it beneficial for the older patient to go first so younger brother or sister can see their older sibling’s successful visit.
- Arrive early – arriving early will not only allow you to fill out new patient paperwork with no rush, but it will showcase the play area to your little one so that they can see the dentist’s office as a fun place!
FUN Secrets for New Friends
Each new patient at our office gets a host of treasures and surprises. I am here to uncover them exclusively for you:
- Upon checking in, your child’s name will be written on a WELCOME Board at our front desk.
- When checking in with the front desk staff they will give your child a sticker so that everyone knows that he or she is our special new guest.
- Each child that receives a cleaning on their first visit will get a complementary gift bag that includes a toothbrush kit appropriate for the age of the child.
- Photo ops are very important for this milestone, so we will capture a first dental visit picture so that you have a keepsake for this memorable occasion.
- After the cleaning and exam your child will get to choose a prizes like balloons and stickers.
- For this visit and future visits, your child will get a shiny gold token that can be used to redeem a prize in the Treasure Tower to round out the end of the visit.
Whenever we see your children, be rest assured that they are in great hands!