27 Mar Let’s Talk About Preparing for Your Child’s First Dental Visit with Dr. Krista Kunz of Magnolia Pediatric Dentistry in Mount Pleasant, SC
One of the questions I get asked frequently is, “When do I need to take my child to the dentist for their first visit?” There is a lot of conflicting information out there about infants, young children, dentists and teeth. So what follows is a guide for a first (or really any) dental visit from my perspective as a pediatric dentist!
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) recommends that a child be brought to the dentist when their first tooth erupts, or by their first birthday, whatever comes first! But if you missed this deadline, please don’t worry! We are always happy whenever a child comes to see us and we can help them have healthy smiles.
Plan in Advance
With young children, a doctor’s visit can be an undertaking! I speak from experience with my own child. So 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 also have training and experience working with children with special health care needs.
The best ways to find a pediatric dentist are to ask your pediatrician, ask a friend, or search for a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry at www.abpd.org. Diplomates of the ABPD are pediatric dentists that have graduated from their residency programs AND who have passed a very intense oral board! So you can rest assured they are well qualified to care for your little ones.
Once you have decided on a pediatric dentist, call the office and review costs with them. How much will a new patient exam be? Does that include a cleaning and a fluoride treatment? What about x-rays? Also ask about insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs.
Another way to streamline your visit is to fill out forms in advance. At our office, we will send you an email with a link, and you can fill it out on your phone or computer at home, whatever is more convenient for you. And if you don’t have a chance before you come in, don’t worry, we can do it there too!
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 planning around nap time and meal time. Set aside an hour for the visit, and bring a list of any medications or 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 any time! 843-996-6796