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Let’s work together to set your kids up for success!
Your kid’s very first dental visit, by the age of 1 (infant):
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry states that a child’s First dental visit should occur sometime between his or her First tooth and his or her First birthday. This first visit will consist of parental education, along with the why, how and when of baby teeth. We talk about why baby teeth are important, how long baby teeth should be there and how to take care of them, and when the teeth typically come in. We go over “anticipatory guidance” i.e., what to expect with your child’s teeth. Prevention of dental disease (cavities) is our utmost concern, here at Tree House Dentistry for Kids. We will work with parents to develop a plan for successful dental habits, leading to happy, healthy smiles!
For the little kids, usually 3 and under, we use a technique called a “knee-to-knee” exam. Your child will sit on your lap, with his or her legs wrapped around you. We then gently lay the child back onto a pillow that is on the dentist’s knees. In this position, Dr. Mike will be able to assess your child’s current oral health, count existing teeth, clean them and paint on Fluoride vitamins. Some kids have no problem laying back, while others might fuss a little. We allow parents to dictate their level of comfort during this exam. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or would like a break, we are happy to comply! Getting comfortable at the dentist is extremely important for both the child and the parent and we will do everything we can to help make this happen! This “knee-to-knee” format is also a terrific way to brush your kid’s teeth at home! Worried about getting your finger bitten? We have tips for that too! In addition to oral hygiene tips, during this appointment, we will also go over diet and/or oral habits (such as pacifiers and thumb-sucking, etc.).
Your kid’s first visit with us (all ages):
It’s never too late to schedule your child’s first dental visit! We understand, that sometimes life gets in the way, but you’re here now and that’s what counts! (No judgment, here!)
Upon check-in, your kids will have toys, TVs, and books to pass the time, until it is their turn. We do our best to start appointments, on time, as scheduled. Our goal is to have your child back within 5 minutes of your arrival. You can help minimize wait-time by filling out all necessary paperwork, prior to your visit. Once it’s your turn we’ll record your kid’s height and weight, review brushing techniques with our friend “Leo the Lion” and slowly introduce dental instruments, including the “tooth-counter” (explorer) and “Mr. Thirsty” (suction). We are strong advocates of the “tell-show-do” method, where we tell kids what we’ll be doing and show it to them in a non-threatening way, prior to doing anything. If your child is in the infant/toddler phase, we will do this exam in the “knee-to-knee” format, as described above. Otherwise, your child will have the option of a traditional dental chair or our kid-friendly bench. We also have TVs mounted above the dental chair to provide your kids with some distraction during their dental visit.
During the exam, the dentist will evaluate the overall oral health of your child. We look for “sugar bugs,” all while explaining that they are real bugs (bacteria) that we all have; and if we don’t brush our teeth two times a day and floss, then the sugar bugs begin to grow and get bigger. The "sugar bugs" then eat the foods that are left behind on our teeth and make the little holes in our teeth (cavities).
During this exam, Dr. Mike will note the spacing of your child’s teeth, along with his or her “Caries Risk Assessment.” The “Caries Risk Assessment” is just a fancy way of saying how likely your child is to have dental decay (cavities). This assessment takes into account current/visible decay, oral hygiene, how much fluoride they receive, tooth spacing, and genetics. Based on this data collected, Dr. Mike might recommend X-rays (radiographs).
Sometimes kids have little-to-no space between their teeth, and the dentist may not be able to see a cavity that is starting to form until a big piece of the tooth is missing. That is why we use x-rays (dental radiographs), to help the dentist see small cavities that are starting. Sometimes it best to leave them alone or monitor the progression of the decay other times it’s best to fix the cavity while it is small. Fixing small cavities is better for the long-term health of a tooth and it’s easier for the patient to tolerate the treatment. Once cavities get too big then pain and infections can start. This can lead to nerve treatment with a stainless-steel crown or an extraction which is not as easy to tolerate.
At Tree House Dentistry for Kids, we only use digital radiographs (X-rays), which utilize very minimal radiation. We will only take X-rays, when indicated. Indications for X-rays, include but are not limited to the following:
- Tight contacts
- History of trauma to a tooth
- Visible decay (When we can see dental decay, taking an X-ray will help us see how extensive it is, i.e. if it has reached the nerve.)
- High caries risk assessment
- To rule out pathology
- To verify existing or missing teeth (the presence or the lack of a permanent tooth that has not yet erupted, will help us with treatment planning.)
At this appointment, your child will receive a dental cleaning (aka prophy). We use fun animal attachments on our “special big toothbrush” along with yummy paste to clean all surfaces of your child’s teeth, followed by the painting of “Fluoride vitamins.” At the end of their dental cleaning, you child will receive a “report card” on how well he or she has been brushing and flossing.
At the end of this appointment, Dr. Mike will go over your child’s recommended treatment plan (if applicable) and dental hygiene schedule. If extensive treatment is needed, a consult room is available to review the risks, benefits and alternatives to the proposed treatment. Dr. Mike will answer all questions regarding your child’s dental needs and help you decide the best way for your child to receive their dental care.
Some things you can do at home to help set your kids up for success:
- Avoid using “scary” words when referring to the dentist. We never us the “S-word” (shot)! Other words we avoid include “Drill,” or “Extract. “We prefer words such as “mosquito pinch”, “big tooth brush,” “sleepy juice,” and “wiggle” instead.
- Kids are very observant; so, they will pick up on your fear/anxiety. If you hate going to the dentist, try not to mention any negative experiences to them!
Let’s work together, as a team, to set your kids up for a lifetime of healthy and happy smiles! (small teeth, BIG smiles)