What is the appropriate age to start seeing the dentist? The sooner, the better. Often, age 1 is when a child can watch their parents or older siblings get a simple cleaning. An easy visit to the office is important, so the child understands that a check-up with the dentist can be easy and fun. The first visit can be just a ride in the chair in order for the child to get used to the noises and happenings in the dental operatory. The dentist may not look in the child’s mouth, but just take time to make an acquaintance.
Children are familiar with going to a physician’s office and occasionally associate that visit with getting a shot in the arm. Simple dental cleanings do not involve anything scary. Bringing kids in when they are younger, it is less likely they will have decay. And, when cavities are found small enough, they can be corrected without anesthesia and no harm to the child. If the first visit is put off until work needs to be done, the experience can be scary and unfamiliar.
So how do you prepare a child for a dental visit involving necessary corrective work? A well-trained dentist will explain to the child and the parents what will be done. And yes, each child is different. The staff will use words that are not alarming to the child. A shot is referred to as “sleepy stuff or numbing juice”. The drill is “Mr. Whistle or Mr. Bumpy”. The child is shown what these things sound like and what they look like so they appear harm-less. Dental work can be pain-free. Please do not prepare the child with alarming words. It’s not lying to the child, but diverting the fear.
Dr. Craig T. Smith studied dentistry at the University of Louisville. He also completed internships in pediatric dentistry at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the University of Colorado. He preferred not to specialize in pediatric dentistry to keep his dentistry a family experience. At Highland Heights Dental we strive to make first visits for children and adults less stressful. This way, preventative care can play a more important role. We recommend 6-month recare visits because tarter and plaque in hard to reach areas build up quickly during that time period. Tarter is a home to bacteria that feast off sugars and carbohydrates you eat. The bacteria then release acid that can cause decay. Other types of bacteria release also acid that can eat away at your jaw bone causing gingivitis or more severe periodontal disease (gum disease). This is seen more in adults and rarely in children. And often this type of gum disease will never hurt until it’s too late.
If we can catch decay or gum disease early, the damage may be small and less expensive. More importantly, it’s better for the overall health of the patient. We invite you to experience dental care at Highland Heights Dental.