Pediatric Dentist

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Most experts recommend that you take your child to his first pediatric dentist appointment within about six months of his first tooth’s arrival.

  • Cleaning
  • Fluoride Treatment
  • Sealants
  • Baby Teeth Extractions
  • Kids Root Canal Treatment

Whether your toddler has a mouth filled with teeth or only a few poking through, it’s time to start thinking about keeping his adorable smile healthy. Sure, baby teeth don’t hang around forever (they generally start to fall out to make way for adult teeth by the time your child is six or seven), but it’s still important to keep those tiny teeth — and gums — in tip-top shape while they’re saving the spots for grownup teeth.

How do you make sure those pearly whites stay pearly? First, teach your toddler to brush his teeth at least twice a day. Next, book his first dentist appointment, if you haven’t already.

Here’s what you need to know about your tot’s first pediatric dentist appointment:

WHEN TO GO TO THE PEDIATRIC DENTIST

Most experts recommend that you take your child to his first pediatric dentist appointment within about six months of his first tooth’s arrival, or by the time he turns two.

HOW TO CHOOSE A DENTIST FOR YOUR CHILD

When it comes to picking a first dentist, many people take their tot to Mom and Dad’s dentist — and this is often a good choice, particularly if your dentist has experience with young children. You may also want to consider taking your child to a pediatric dentist — someone who has additional training in caring for children’s oral health. Another bonus to choosing a pediatric dentist: He’ll be prepared to deal with any squirming or hollering in the dental chair, and he’ll have a waiting room filled with distractions such as kids’ books and toys.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT YOUR CHILD’S DENTAL CHECKUP

Expect the first dentist appointment to be short and informal — more of a meet and greet for your child and the dentist. Depending on your child’s age and comfort level, you may be asked to hold him while the dentist pokes around his mouth. Or you may be asked to hang back in the waiting room so your toddler can have some quality time to get to know the dentist and staff on his own.

As for the business of inspecting your tot’s teeth, the dentist will check for decay and take a look at your child’s gums, jaw, and bite. The dentist or the hygienist may clean your child’s teeth and apply a fluoride preparation (particularly if there is a stain or a high risk of cavities) or he or she may save that for the next visit. Chances are, the dentist will talk to you about good oral-hygiene habits — and give you the chance to ask any questions you may have about toddler teething, thumb sucking, tooth-friendly foods, or anything else that pertains to your toddler’s oral health. You may want to bring a list of your questions to the appointment so that you remember them when you’ve got the dentist’s attention.

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR CHILD’S DENTIST VISIT EASIER

Before you assume that getting your toddler into the dentist’s chair will involve either a tantrum or bribery, remember that your child doesn’t harbor any ill will toward his first dentist — yet. After all, he hasn’t had a close encounter with The Drill. For him, his first dentist appointment could be as much fun as a stop at the local amusement park (the chair goes up and down, back and forth!). So keep your own negative feelings in check (if you have any) and let your child enjoy his first dental visit with the same enthusiasm as a visit to Grandma’s (without the candy, of course).

OVERCOMING FEAR OF THE DENTIST

Some toddlers have anxiety about medical and dental checkups, and their fears are completely understandable. Do your best to be patient with your little patient, and let her know you recognize how she feels. To help alleviate anxiety, here are a few tactics to try before and during the appointment:

  • Read up and role-play: Read picture books about visiting the dentist, and encourage your toddler to play “dentist” with a stuffed animal or doll—opening wide, looking inside, and giving teeth a polish.
  • Use positive language: Explain to your sweetie that a dentist is a doctor who helps build healthy, strong teeth, but avoid getting into much technical detail about the visit, which may confuse more than it clears up.
  • Come prepared: Bring along comfort toys and distractions for the waiting room and the dentist’s chair.
  • Plan a treat: Something as simple as a trip to the playground after the dentist can help your toddler stay focused on the positive.
  • Stay relaxed: Your own stress or anxiety about the dentist may be more noticeable than you think, especially for a perceptive and sensitive toddler. If you’re cheerful and calm, you set the tone for your child to be, too.
  • Be a good cheerleader: Congratulate your kiddo whenever you can (“Good job opening wide!”), and try to be supportive, not critical, if your child has a hard time cooperating. And remember: Even if he kicks and screams the whole time, it’s nothing an experienced pediatric dentist hasn’t seen before.

HOW OFTEN TO VISIT THE DENTIST

Based on how your toddler’s teeth look, your dentist will let you know when to make the next visit. Most experts recommend that toddlers see the dentist about every six months — as long as there are no major problems. So don’t forget to schedule your child’s second appointment on your way out the door!

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