Alpharetta, GA – Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatric dentistry recommends that children visit a dentist for the first time by their first birthday? You may think that sounds young, but children can develop tooth decay even before their first tooth erupts in their mouth.
“National studies show us that early childhood caries are becoming an epidemic,” says Alpharetta children’s dentist Dr. Nanna Ariaban.
“Preschool children are getting more cavities – in fact one in four children will have at least one cavity by the age of four. The earlier your child begins seeing a pediatric dentist, the sooner we can begin preventive measures to keep tooth decay and cavities at bay.”
But what happens at a check-up for a child that young?
The first appointment will often be a simple one to allow the child the chance to get used to the office and the dentist. It can help for the parent to talk about the dentist before the first visit to help build excitement.
“Small children, especially infants and toddlers, can be fidgety and anxious,” says Dr. Nanna. “We know it can be hard for them to understand what is happening, so we do our best to make them feel at home and comfortable. To help parents prepare themselves and their child for their visit, we encourage our parents to ask about the appointment beforehand. If you know what is going to happen, you’ll know the best way to ensure your child is prepared.”
It’s important for parent’s to describe visits to the dentist as fun and exciting. Children often take their cues from parents, so if you show fear or trepidation, they will, too. Read books about going to the dentist, find fun videos, etc. If your child has a favorite toy or blanket, feel free to bring that with you. Sometimes, having something they love can help them feel more secure and confident in a new environment.
The goal of Dr. Nanna and her team is to build your child’s trust so they’ll enjoy coming to the dentist, and in turn will want to take good care of their teeth. At the first appointment for a young child, you can expect the following:
- 1- Discussion of your family dental history.
We know the dental caries can be genetic, so it’s important for us to get a complete picture of your family’s dental health to better understand what could happen in your child’s mouth.
- 2- Examination of the child’s mouth.
Dr. Nanna and her team will look in your child’s mouth, checking the teeth, gums, and soft tissue for any signs of decay or plaque.
- 3- Discussion of the importance of fluoride.
Dr. Nanna will discuss how fluoride can help your child’s teeth stay strong and healthy and discuss its proper use.
- 4- Discussion of habits that can lead to tooth decay.
Dr. Nanna will discuss with you any habits that can lead to tooth decay, such as going to bed with a bottle at night, not wiping the child’s mouth clean after feedings, etc.
- 5- Effects of pacifier.
Discussion of the effects of long-term pacifier usage or thumb sucking, and tips on how to break those habits.
- 6- Tips for proper oral care.
Dr. Nanna will discuss proper brushing and cleaning techniques to use to keep your infant’s mouth clean and healthy.
- 7- Questions and answers.
Parents will have the opportunity to ask any questions or raise any concerns they may have about their child’s oral health. Dr. Nanna will take the time to answer each of your concerns.
- 8- Schedule the next check-up.
Children should see the dentist every six months, and can begin as early as six months. The first visit should be scheduled after the first tooth appears, or by the first birthday.
“The main purpose of this first visit is to teach parents about their children’s oral health and how to properly care for their children’s teeth, especially if a problem should arise,” says Dr. Nanna. “It’s important that you see a dentist who specializes in pediatric dentistry because he or she will understand children’s oral health, growth and development. Not only that, but children’s dental specialists will often have offices geared towards ensuring the comfort of children, and will know how to handle your child, even when the child is scared or anxious.”