Age 1 Visit
The first years of a child’s life can be a critical foundation for their lifelong health. We want our children to enjoy a healthy childhood. The academies of the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), and the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) all recommend that a child visit the dentist for the first time 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth or by age one, whichever comes first.
What is an Age One Visit?
This visit allows us to help educate parents about their child’s oral health and how to prevent oral disease before it occurs. The goal of our office is to prevent dental decay and age one dental visits are one of the ways to accomplish this goal. Many children are suffering from needless tooth decay and subsequent dental pain because they do not have a dental home.
What is a Dental Home?
In order to show parents how to achieve optimum oral health for their children, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has established the concept of a dental home. This is defined as the “… ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral health care, delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way.” The AAPD recommends that a dental home be established with every child before 12 months of age.
What is Dental Anticipatory Guidance?
Anticipatory guidance is the process of providing practical, developmentally appropriate information about children’s oral health to prepare parents for the significant physical, emotional, and psychological milestones. Topics to be included are oral hygiene and dietary habits, teething concerns, injury prevention, cavity risks and prevention, finger/pacifier habits, substance abuse, intraoral/perioral piercing, and speech/language development. Anticipatory guidance considers all aspects of a child’s growth and helps set the stage for planning the youngster’s total care, emphasizing prevention.
What Will Happen at the First Visit?
At your child’s first visit, the pediatric dentist will go over all of these considerations to educate and reassure the parent. In order to best examine the very young child, he/she will be put in the “knee-to-knee” position. You will have your child facing you with his legs around your waist. You then lean him back into the pediatric dentist’s lap so that he can count the teeth, see the gums, and clean the teeth as needed. A coating of fluoride varnish will then be painted on the teeth to strengthen them, as well as help prevent cavities.
Infant Home Care
Children under age 2 should only have a “smear” of fluoride toothpaste on their toothbrush to prevent excess swallowing. Whenever the teeth are so tight that the bristles of the brush cannot get in between, you need to use dental floss. For many parents, brushing and flossing their children’s teeth while standing at the bathroom mirror can be a challenge. If you lay your youngster down on his/her bed and sit next to him/her, mimicking the same situation your pediatric dentist has when your child is in the dental chair, then you can easily brush the child’s teeth. And since there is only a small amount of toothpaste on the brush, the mess will be minimal. While the toothpaste is still present, draw the dental floss between the tight teeth. This not only cleans better, but brings the fluoride to the tooth surfaces, since about 40% of all decay occurs in between. When you are finished with this exercise, your child can go to the bathroom and brush on his/her own … a true team effort.