Erie, Harborcreek and Millcreek, PA
Is your child nearing his or her first dental visit? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children start seeing the dentist around their first birthday. While this may seem rather young, a lot can happen during your child’s development, and the dentist can help be apart of that to ensure your child’s jaw and teeth develop as they should. Taking a young child to the dentist for the first time can be scary for both the child and parents. At our Erie family dentist office, Dr. Albert Starr, DDS, wants to let parents know what to expect for their child’s first visit.
Many parents wait until their child is around preschool age before bringing them in. While this is still a good age to begin dental visits, the earlier, the better. It’s important for children to develop proper chewing patterns, receive healthy nutrition, and that their teeth erupt and properly develop during these early years. This first visit also gets your child acquainted with the idea of going to the dentist. Since more than likely your child will not need any actual treatment during this visit (it’s more of a checkup), he or she can begin fostering trust with us, and with the idea of going to the dentist. This may help prevent your child from developing fears or anxiety toward trips to the dentist. This is why a quick trip around age one is an appropriate time for a visit to our pediatric dentist office in Erie.
The First Visit
We like to greet your child to make sure they feel comfortable, and if they are old enough, we can explain why they are here. If your child expresses compliance about getting into the examination chair, we will go ahead and get started. If he or she seems apprehensive or scared, we can wait until your child is ready before starting the appointment. Forcing or coercing your child to cooperate may seem like the best idea from a parent’s perspective, but we feel that it can cause your child a great deal of anxiety that could impact their view of the dentist for years. You are welcome to come back to the exam room, along with your child, to help them feel more comfortable.
Here is what we are checking during this first visit:
- Examine teeth to look for normal tooth eruption and development.
- Check for cavities or problem areas that could be potential cavities.
- Gently clean their teeth (usually by brushing only for the first few visits).
- Apply sealants to act as a barrier against cavity-causing bacteria.
- Educate parents or caregivers on proper brushing and flossing techniques.
- Discuss with parents good oral hygiene habits, eating habits, and what to look for regarding any potential oral health concerns.
- Schedule the next six-month checkup.
Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary. While young children may not understand where they are going or the purpose of their visit, toddlers actually understand more than we give them credit for. You could talk to your child before going to the dentist, or even read children’s books that could help get them to understand what going to the dentist is all about. When discussing the dentist with your child, avoid using words such as scary, hurt, or painful, because those words may provoke anxious feelings. Even if you yourself are an adult that is scared of going, don’t let your fears rub off on your child. You may have had a bad experience when you were younger that caused this life-long fear of dentists, but that doesn’t have to be the case for your child. The sooner they become comfortable with going to the dentist, the better off they will be.
If you would like to learn more about our pediatric dentistry program, just call our office at (814) 825-2615. We welcome patients of Erie, Harborcreek, and Millcreek, PA.