Getting Started with a Baby Dentist
Why You Should Take Your Baby to the Dentist
Most parents take their children to the dentist a lot later than is recommended by pediatric dentists and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists. A study conducted by Morpace in 2009 found that most parents take their children to the pediatric dentist at the age of 2.6.
Also, many parents that did not take their infant or toddler to the dentist cited that their child was too young to be going to the dentist. Over 62% cited this reason. Only 12% cited lack of insurance.
At What Age Should I Take My Baby to the Dentist?
Babies should be taken to the pediatric dentist when they are 1 year old or within 6 months after their first baby tooth appears. That means many parents are taking their infants and toddlers to the dentist a year and a half too late.
Common Reasons for Not Taking Baby to the Dentist
Waiting Too Long
When we circle back to the study we mentioned earlier, we can see that many parents take their baby to the dentist way too late. The reason isn’t money or insurance, rather it’s a lack of education and knowledge.
Dentistry for children starts young and should be promoted right at the start of the formation of their very first tooth. Not when a good number of teeth show up. This is something that we see far too often and can often lead to a higher amount of dental work needed.
Nervousness and Crying
A common reason for parents not walking to take their children to the dentist is also the concern about a baby crying once they are at the dental office. The image of children crying and panicking at the dentist’s office is far too common and can understandably be stressful for parents.
However, when we look at the recommendation of taking your baby to the dentist at the age of 1 or when their first tooth erupts, you have to remember that at that age your children will be too young to be nervous.
Your child will be nervous, however, if they are older and have never been to the dentist’s office before and are going to visit for the first time. That’s another reason why we encourage parents to start when young, so that babies can start developing comfort with the office from an early age.
Misconceptions about Baby Teeth
Since baby teeth are temporary, some can overlook the importance of primary teeth, especially when they will fall out. The importance of baby teeth includes helping children develop strong speech skills, promote chewing and good nutrition and also confidence for smiling and interacting with others.
Baby teeth also are the precursors to adult teeth, which can have an effect on the future development of adult teeth and their positioning. This can increase the severity of orthodontic treatment that may be needed.
What Will Happen at My Baby’s First Visit?
The first visit is all about setting the groundwork for a lifetime of a healthy, comfortable relationship with the child, the family and the pediatric dentist (which in this case is Dr. Nanna Ariaban).
At this first visit, the pediatric dentist will walk parents through how to clean the baby’s teeth, discuss good food and nutrition for baby teeth, recommend great oral products and also go over bad habits that should be avoided.
For the child, it will be all about building a relationship with the child. By making them comfortable, the pediatric dentist and the staff will be able to develop a connection with the child. Based on the child’s overall comfort, the pediatric dentist will do a cursory review of the baby’s mouth.
This will include:
- Examination of teeth and gums
- Look for signs of tooth decay
- Check for bad habits or possible problems
- If necessary, a brief teeth cleaning
And finally, what surprises many parents, is the discussion of the whole family’s dental health. Bacteria that causes cavities can be passed from parent to child and dental issues that plagued parents can also be passed on to the child. By having this discussion, a pediatric dentist can begin to customize treatment for the baby better.
For those coming to Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry, we have our first visit walkthrough here.
Recommendations for Your Baby’s First Visit
To help make the first visit a positive one, we recommend the following:
Schedule an Appointment for the Morning
The mornings are when babies are fully rested and are more cooperative. By doing so in the morning, parents can also get their own dental jitters done with at the beginning of the day, rather than wait the entire day. Many offices can easily accommodate morning visits, for Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry you can request this when you call in.
Play Dentist at Home
For those whose children are a bit older, it can often be fun to play dentist at home. There are many toys and games that can be played. Dr. Nanna has a fun pinterest board that parents can reference.
For those who are babies, parents can also build comfort by playing with their baby and getting them comfortable with checking their teeth. By cleaning any teeth that may have already erupted or just by simply wiping a baby’s mouth after feeling can do build a lot of comfort when it comes time to go to the dental office.
Take a Dental Field Trip
We encourage parents to take their babies and children to their next dental visit. Simply by being in an environment where an infant or toddler can see how comfortable their parents are when visiting the dentist, the trip to the pediatric dental office will be familiar and easier to acclimate to.
Don’t Plan Anything Immediately Before or After
Give enough time for yourself to take your time with the visit. Parents and families that are rushing to their appointment often have a negative experience as they are frantic and don’t get the whole time to really do an examination and talk with the dentist. You also do not want to rush the staff or the dentist because of something that the family has to rush to after.
We want to have time to build a connection and if the process is rushed, it will compromise the ability for the staff and the child to build that connection.
Taking Your Baby to Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry
When taking your baby to Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Nanna and the staff are all well equipped and trained to ensure the best treatment for your baby. In addition, the office puts an intense focus on creating an environment that feels like home. This is done through the paint, decorations, all the way down to the demeanor of the staff and Dr. Nanna.
We’ve talked a lot about how we want to create a dental home for your child and the best way to do that is to make the child and family feel as if they are part of a family, in this case the Polkadot family. For parents who want to get a glimpse of this we encourage them to take our virtual tour of our office and to also visit our YouTube channel to see our practice.
Starting a lifetime of strong oral health starts at a young age and as parents you have the most influence to help get your child started on the right path. For more information on pediatric dentistry, we have a whole guide where parents can learn more about promoting their children’s oral health.