Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist
When Should Your Child See a Dentist for the First Time?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend that children see a dentist upon eruption of their first tooth, or by age one. This allows us to examine children to make sure that all dental structures are developing normally. More importantly, a first appointment is an important opportunity to establish good dental hygiene practices at an early age and provides an opportunity to educate parents on how to correctly help children care for their teeth. Parents will leave this first appointment with useful knowledge for helping their children care for their teeth and having established at a young age that going to the dentist can be fun. This affords time-critical opportunities to implement appropriate health practices and reduce children's risk of preventable dental and oral disease. Establishment of a dental home by 12 months of age allows the institution of individualized cavities (caries)-preventive strategies, including dietary recommendations and appropriate oral hygiene instruction as the primary teeth erupt. Children that begin early with dental care tend to have lower rates of decay because they are less averse to the dental setting and parents are better educated. Additionaly, by going to a dentist at a young age, early intervention (when necessary) can be accomplished so areas of concern do not become major problems later.
What you can expect during your first appointment
No matter what age your child is during their first appointment, we’ll do everything possible to ensure that it is a pleasant and positive experience for them. During the first appointment, we’ll need to get the New Patient forms filled out and signed by a parent or guardian (also available on our website if you’d like to do them in advance). Dr. Jessica will get to know you and your child a little better, asking questions about lifestyle, current dental hygiene habits, and answer questions you might have about your child’s dental health.
Dr. Jessica will perform a dental exam, checking out the health of your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth. We know the importance of establishing a trusting, caring relationship with our patients during this first visit, so we’ll do everything we can to make sure your child leaves with a smile. Dr. Jessica, as an experienced dentist and mother of two young kids, is great at working with children. She will soothe their fears about the dentist, answer questions and explain everything that is happening. She will talk children through their cleanings and give them helpful hints about taking care of their teeth in the future.
We recognize that some children and parents may have anxiety about dentistry. It is best not to over prepare your child for the visit and please refrain from using any words that could cause unnecessary fear, such as "shot" and "drill." If you or your child have any questions about their first visit before you arrive, give us a call. We are happy to answer questions and make children and parents feel excited about their next visit to the dentist!
Get a jumpstart on your new patient paperwork by downloading the forms on our website! Fill them out when it is convenient for you and save time during your first appointment. Simply print and fill out the forms and bring them with you to your first appointment. Call us at 202-545-7200 if you have any questions about the forms.