What Happens at the First Dental Visit

By: J. Shahangian, DDS, MS- San Diego Board Certified Pediatric Dentist

Your Child`s First Dental Visit
I recommend that you bring your child to visit me around his/her first year of age.  In fact you can even bring your child as soon as his/her first tooth has erupted.

The first visit is usually an icebreaker visit to introduce myself, and to become acquainted with your child.  Sometimes children feel uncomfortable, frightened, and uncooperative and may need to reschedule their appointment.

Many children feel afraid to visit the dentist for the first time.  This is the main reason to start your child’s oral hygiene at an early age.  I have many years of experience in pediatric dentistry and have learned how to create a friendly and warm environment for your child.  I avoid, and encourage you to avoid, words like “drill”, “needle”, “hurt”, and “pull” because these words can cause fear in a child.  The sooner your child begins to see me for routine checkups, the less fear your child will have over the years.

I recommend that you or a relative, accompany your child throughout the procedure, especially for children under age three.  However, I encourage your older children to visit me and not be supervised to show more independence.

Your temperament affects the overall feel of your child’s visit.  I recommend that you keep your calm and patience because this helps create a stress-free and successful visit.  I also recommend that you make your appointment as early as possible during the day so that your child feels fresh and alert.

Here are some of the typical components of your child’s first visit with me:

  • Through and gentle examination of your child’s oral tissue, gums, bite, jaw, and teeth to examine development and growth, and to monitor any problem areas.
  • If necessary, an easy cleaning, which may include plaque, stains, and tartar buildup, and teeth polishing.
  • X-rays
  • A small demo of proper dental hygiene
  • An evaluation to determine whether your child needs more fluoride intake

I, or my staff, am always eager to give your child a tour of my dental office before his/her first appointment.  I believe this helps to create a feeling of familiarity before your child’s first appointment.  I always encourage parents and the children to ask about the procedures so that there are no surprises.  In this way, you can build excitement and understanding for your child’s future visit.  Lastly, bring with you any previous medical records, and medical history.[1]

You may be wondering what will happen when your child comes in for a checkup.  I will ask your child to lie back on the big, comfy green chairs that have lights overhead.  I will ask your child to open the mouth, and I will use a small instrument that looks and feels like a metal toothpick.  Next, I will look at every tooth to make sure all the teeth and gums are healthy.  This procedure does not hurt at all.

I may tell you your child needs mouth “X-rays”.  This fast and easy procedure involves placing a small piece of cardboard in the mouth, which your child will bite down on.  Usually, my dental assistant will help me with this.  The assistant will help your child bite down on the cardboard, and while your child is biting down, my assistant will turn on the big camera next to your child’s mouth.  I will take a picture using a strong light called “X-rays”.  This strong light lets the camera see inside of the mouth, looking past the cheeks

The reason why I may do X-rays is to check for cavities or other problems that are not normally visible



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