By Dr. Neda Rafati
What is the recommended age for the first dental exam?
According to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) your child’s first dental visit is around their first birthday or 6 months after their first primary (baby) tooth erupts. For example, if your child is getting teeth early then his/her first visit will also be earlier than their first Birthday. This can be different for every child. Your child’s first visit can also be during infancy if tongue tie is an issue. In our office Dr. Glenn van As offers tongue tie release procedures using a very minimally invasive laser with no downtime. This will help with your child’s ability to feed better and latch on better.
What does a dentist do during the first dental exam?
We treat many children who come in with their parents or primary care giver at the Canyon Dental Centre. It is important to have either of the parents or both parents present to review oral hygiene, feeding pattern, habits, etc.
We call this first visit a happy visit in our office 🙂 We try to make it very enjoyable and pleasant for the kids who come in to leave a great first impression for them. We ask their parent to sit in the chair and put them on their lap. If possible we try to look inside their mouth and perform a dental exam which will be a quick one as you can imagine. We distract them with the TV they can watch while lying back and tickle them to take a look inside while they laugh.
Most of the first dental visit revolves around discussing feeding pattern, oral hygiene routine, and diet counseling with the parents.
Feeding pattern: Do you breast feed or bottle feed right before bed? Do they fall asleep with milk as the last thing before going to bed? Research has shown drinking milk before falling asleep can increase risk of caries as carbohydrates left around teeth can cause cavities.
Oral hygiene routine: Are you able to brush their teeth or is it a challenge getting them to cooperate? a method I have seen work is putting their head on your lap and brushing for them. If they move around too much having a help to hold their legs down can make it easier. Sometimes having them close to parents or other siblings while the family is brushing their teeth will also help motivating them to allow you brush for them.
How many times do you brush their teeth? twice a day is ideal but definitely last thing before going to bed should be brushing their teeth. As mentioned before if they fall asleep with milk, their caries risk will increase. The amount of toothpaste is similar to one coat of nail polish or brushing with water only will do the job.
Diet counseling: This is one of the fundamentals of the first dental visit as the frequency of feeding and what solid foods they eat has a direct correlation with their caries risk. For example, I always advise parents to give their kids water instead of milk last thing before falling asleep. Also, drinking water after high sugar snacks or meals will reduce caries risks. I always recommend fluoride drops as supplements. You can purchase this over the counter at any pharmacy near you. Our water in BC is not fluoridated. Fluoride is known to strengthen the enamel and reverse early stages of caries.
How often should I take my toddler to the dentist?
After the first dental visit – their first birthday- we see them once every 6 months. The ‘check up’ visit or dental exam includes :
1- Counting their teeth and reviewing the eruption pattern with parents. On average by 24 months, all primary (baby) teeth are present. This can be later if your child tends to be ‘late’ in reaching developmental milestones.
2- Examining their teeth and soft tissue
2- Diet counseling and assessing caries risk
3-Attempting to polish their teeth and applying fluoride
At Canyon Dental and Laser Skin Care Centre, we are committed to make their first visit and the following visits very pleasant and fun. We do not force them to sit or to do anything they are not willing to do. We distract them with the TV and make sure they get rewarded for being cooperative. They all get a goodie bag and a prize from our toy box at the end of each visit.