Coming from a community clinic where I provided care to primarily children, I have learned a lot about the importance and ultimately, the value of pediatric dental care. A common question we receive is, “How old does my child need to be to see the dentist?” Our philosophy? The earlier, the better! In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should see a dentist after their first tooth appears or no later than their 1st birthday.
Tooth eruption usually begins around four to six months old. By the age of two, it’s common for a child to have all 20 of their primary teeth. Remaining on the preventative side of dental care is always ideal, especially when it comes to children. The positives to seeing kids at a young age are evident. Not only are they developing a positive outlook on visiting the dentist, but instilling these values at a young age is a game changer in how they might choose to care for their teeth as adults. Addressing contributing factors early on, we are able to prevent or significantly reduce the need for treatment down the road. A common misconception regarding kids and dental care is that since they will lose all of their baby teeth, treating them is not necessary. Primary dentition plays a significant role in maintaining space for permanent teeth. Losing primary teeth prematurely can mean more time and money spent addressing spacing concerns in the future.
Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect an age appropriate dental hygiene visit to look like:
Knowledge is power. We like to educate and empower parents of even the littlest ones to care for their youngster’s teeth. Before kids are ready for the “big chair,” a lap-to-lap exam is recommended. Your child might enjoy this or they might not, but we move quickly either way! We do our best to count, brush and examine their teeth for any areas of concern. Diet, home care and recommendations may also be discussed.
The age at which a child is ready for the big chair can vary greatly from individual to individual. Everyone at High Point is treated on an individual basis, but we understand it is particularly important to be flexible when it comes to working with kids. Whether it is their very first visit or their fourth year visiting, four is a great age to begin exploring the dental office using the Tell, Show, Do approach.
Tell, Show, Do looks like this: We are going to take some pictures of your teeth today! This is my little picture and all you have to do is bite on it like a cracker. See, like this. Now you try!
There’s a lot going on when you get your teeth cleaned. From the high pitched sound of the polisher to the crunchy polish paste, it’s easy for a little one to feel a sensory overload. Using Tell, Show, Do introduces each new experience one at a time. Whether they sit for an entire cleaning or they simply climb in the chair and learn about the tools, any step forward is a win! At around four years old, we will attempt their first radiographs to assess for interproximal decay and check on the status of primary and permanent front teeth. Every child is unique and we know how to go with the flow!
By the time kids are around eight years old, appointments tend to be much more predictable with routine x-rays, cleanings and exams. From this point on, behavior does not need to be managed as intently.
We will apply a fluoride varnish to your child’s teeth unless contraindicated. Parents, you are certainly welcome to come back with your child! However, allowing them to come back alone is encouraged! Remember that your trust in our team fosters the same sense of security within your little ones. Allowing them to come back alone builds self-confidence and a strong, lasting relationship between your child and their providers. Many of you have been with the same dentist for decades with care given to multiple generations within the family. We want to acknowledge and grow our High Point family tree! Call to schedule your little one’s first appointment at High Point today!