What to Expect at Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Healthy teeth and gums are an important part of your child’s overall development and wellbeing. Primary teeth require proper care as they affect speech and the future growth of permanent teeth. Children must learn good oral hygiene practices early in life so they can carry them forward into adulthood.

Proper oral care starts with a trip to the dentist. Help your child view dental appointments as a pleasant adventure experience by seeking a dentist that has a friendly and fun atmosphere that keeps kids engaged. It’s a smart move to choose a dentist specializing in pediatric dentistry. Dr. Hines and the whole team at Hines Little Smiles understand how crucial it is to interact with children in a way that makes them feel comfortable, confident, and important. Learn what to expect so you can come prepared and put your child at ease.

Reasons to Choose a Pediatric Dentist

Some parents believe that baby teeth don’t require dental care since they eventually fall out to make way for permanent teeth. This is not the case. Even small children are at risk of oral health problems like cavities, gum disease, or tooth loss. Approximately one-quarter of all children develop a cavity by age four. Your children’s teeth need care from the moment they appear.

Pediatric dentists like Dr. Hines are experienced in helping children’s teeth grow correctly. They receive two additional years of special training in the care of infants and young children, along with child psychology courses to improve communication skills. Taking good care of baby teeth allows the child’s permanent teeth to come in straighter. Problems with thumb sucking, accidents that damage teeth and common childhood milestones are given the attention they deserve. While behaviors like thumb sucking are typical of small children, when it continues it may affect the shape of the child’s mouth and their tooth alignment. Pediatric dentists are familiar with these concerns and we can provide suggestions to stop thumb sucking.

An early introduction to oral health habits is best to teach your child how to properly brush and floss their teeth and develop good habits with oral care and a healthy diet. Starting a routine is a fantastic way to educate your child and encourage them to gradually learn to care for their teeth on their own. Our team at Hines Little Smiles is here to help. We are prepared to answer all the questions your little one may have.

When to Schedule the Initial Exam

Parents should schedule a dental visit for their child on their first birthday, or within six months after the child’s first tooth comes through. Subsequent visits are typically recommended every six months. Children born with a natal tooth need to be seen immediately as it may contribute to nursing problems or mouth sores.

What to Expect at Your Child’s Visit

When you first arrive, we take some time to make sure everyone is comfortable and relaxed before we get started. Your child’s appointment begins with a review of their medical history. Both you and your child are encouraged to ask questions and address any concerns that you have. Next, your dentist discusses what to expect as your child’s teeth grow in, how to spot signs of potential cavities, and the right way to take care of teeth to lower the risk of developing dental problems. Practice time for child and parent is encouraged to get the hang of caring for baby teeth.

The oral exam is done knee-to-knee. This means that once your child is comfortable, you will sit facing the dentist with your child facing you, and then lay the child down with his or her head in the dentist’s lap. Continued contact with a parent or caregiver makes the child feel safe in an unfamiliar situation. From here, a thorough exam of the child’s teeth, gums, and jaw are conducted.

Potential problems with the bite, cavity risk, and other specifics are discussed. A teeth cleaning or fluoride treatment could be necessary as part of the first visit, depending upon what is found during the exam.

How to Prepare Your Child

Speak with your child about the upcoming appointment. Use language and an upbeat tone that visits sound like an exciting adventure so the child looks forward to coming to the office. Explain the basics of what they should expect. Bring your child’s blanket or a special toy along to ease anxiety during the appointment. If he or she is especially anxious, playing a favorite video or reading a story may help. Stay positive and do your best to discuss only pleasant experiences. During the exam, make the experience feel more relaxing by counting teeth out loud and discussing each step of the process.

Quality and Caring Pediatric Dentistry at Hines Little Smiles

Dr. Mitzi Hines and our team understand that new experiences can make a child nervous. We strive to put all patients at ease while making a genuine connection by learning about each individual. All kids are listened to and treated with expert care as we teach them how to take care of their pearly whites.

We are also trained to care for children with special needs. Contact us to discuss the needs of your child so we can decide on the best approach for your situation. We adore children and want to make sure that every child we see feels comfortable and gets excellent care.

At Hines Little Smiles, our team offers a full range of dental services for children. Our services range from guidance for newly erupting teeth to sedation dentistry for procedures. We conduct routine exams that stress the importance of parental involvement and daily brushing and flossing. Preventive treatments include sealants, mouthguards, and early identification and diagnosis of problems. Together, we can educate your child on the importance of oral health while monitoring growth and development.

Help your child develop a bright and healthy smile by requesting an appointment with Hines Little Smiles today!

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A dentist demonstrates to a child patient a large dental model for educational purposes during a consultation.