By Jaime O’Neill DDS
Although I am not exclusively a pediatric dentist, I have many children as patients. I also am a mother of four young children and my husband is a dentist as well.
So not surprisingly, I am frequently asked by my patients with young children when the best time to bring their children to our office for the first time. I usually give them two answers.
The best time to bring your child to see us for the first time is when you have a cleaning and checkup appointment for yourself – perhaps when they are between two and three. We welcome you to bring your child with you into our checkup room so they can meet our staff, get to know us and become comfortable in our office environment. They can also watch how we work and how you act while having your teeth cleaned and your checkup. If you are comfortable, they will recognize that and when it comes time for their first appointment they likely will feel better than had they never been here before.
As for the appropriate age for you children to have their first checkup, I usually suggest between the age of three and four. By then they will have all their baby teeth in place and we can do a proper cleaning and checkup.
During this first appointment we usually suggest you accompany your child into the checkup room and perhaps even sit in the examination chair with them, so they feel completely comfortable and relaxed. We will always do our best to make your child at ease by explaining everything we are doing.
Prior to the first appointment, it would be a good idea to prepare your child for what is happening – and why. It’s likely you already are teaching them about dental hygiene so you can tell them this is a continuation of their learning experience.
Once we clean their teeth, we’ll do a complete examination during which we’ll check for cavities and any other issues, including the impact any thumb or finger sucking might be having on their teeth.
We’ll also be sure to reinforce the importance of them brushing their teeth after meal and general dental hygiene. And we’ll answer any questions you have related to the best dental care you can provide your children.
After the first visit, we’ll recommend setting an appointment for your children every six months, as we do for our adult patients. This is the best way to make sure their teeth and gums remain healthy as they grow and mature.
If you have any questions in advance of your child’s first visit to our office, please contact me through our staff and I will be happy to call you to discuss.
Reminder: We are following all state and CDC guidelines related to COVID-19. Our office administrators will be happy to explain our procedures in detail or email you the information at your request.