Before the First Visit
You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. If old enough, your child should be informed of the visit and told that "Dr. Rutledge is going to teach you how to take care of your teeth," "she will count your teeth using a special tooth mirror" and "she may take pictures of your teeth to make sure they are healthy." The less to-do concerning the visit, the better.
There are many child friendly books about going to the dentist that you can read with your child prior to the first exam. Two of these include: The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist and Dora the Explorer - Show Me Your Smile, A Visit to the Dentist. Afterwards, your child might even want to practice being the dentist at home and looking at your teeth!
Be aware of your own fears. It is very important that you do not tell negative stories about your previous visits to the dentist in front of your child. Children are very perceptive and certain to pick up on your attitude towards the dentist... so remain positive about their appointment.
It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as "needle", "shot", "pull", "drill" or "hurt". The office makes a practice of using words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child. Some of the child friendly terms may include:
- Examination – Count teeth
- Radiographs or x-rays – Pictures
- Explorer or sharp instrument – Tooth Counter
- Tooth Cleaning – Tickle the teeth
- Suction – Mr. Thirsty or Thirsty Straw
- Fluoride treatment – Tooth Vitamins or Magic Shield
- Sealants – Paint the teeth
- Cavities/Decay – Sugar Bugs
- Fillings/Restorations – Play doh
- Laughing gas/Nitrous Oxide – Spaceman Nose
- Topical anesthetic – Tooth Jelly
- Shot or use a needle – Sleepy Bubble or Spray cold water
- Numb – Tooth is sleeping/taking a nap
- Mouth prop – Tooth Pillow
- Clamp – Tooth Ring
- Rubber dam – Tooth Trampoline
- High Speed Drill/Hand piece – Water Whistle
- Slow Speed Drill/Hand Piece – Mr. Bumpy
- Pull the tooth -Wiggle the tooth
Our office, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend establishing a "Dental Home" for your child by one year of age. Children who have a dental home are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care.
The Dental Home is intended to provide a place other than the Emergency Room for parents.
We invite you to stay with your child during the initial examination. During future appointments, we suggest you allow your child to accompany our staff through the dental experience. We can usually establish a closer rapport with your child when you are not present. Our purpose is to gain your child's confidence and overcome apprehension. However, if you choose, you are more than welcome to accompany your child during their appointment. For the safety and privacy of all patients, other children who are not being treated should remain in the reception room with a supervising adult.
We strive to make each and every visit to our office a fun one!
What To Expect
We invite you to stay with your child through each step of the first visit. You will want to arrive at least 10-15 minutes prior to your appointment so you can complete any necessary paperwork and allow your child some time to adjust and explore our office.
During your first visit we will gather all the information we need to develop a preventative program unique to your child. We will discuss appropriate home care such as brushing, flossing, diet and fluoride as it relates to your child specifically. Dr. Rutledge will perform a thorough dental exam for each child, determine their dental caries (cavities) risk, check for any tooth decay, examine their occlusion (bite), evaluate for any dental growth or developmental concerns, and discuss any oral habits such as the thumb, finger, or pacifier use. We will do a dental cleaning, fluoride treatment, and determine whether your child is ready for x-rays... this typically depends on your child's age and level of anxiety. If Dr. Rutledge determines your child needs dental treatment, she will discuss all the options offered in our office and help you make the best choice for your child.
What About After My Child's First Visit
Don't be discouraged if your child cries on the first visit to the dentist. Crying is a normal reaction for some children when faced with a new situation. Remember to compliment your child to others no matter how your child performed during their visit. It is important that they feel reassured and positive about their dental experience. The more positive we all make the visit, the more they will want to come back and try even harder next time!
It is also important that your child visits the dentist every six months. The six month recall system is the best way to ensure early detection of any issue that might affect your child's oral health. They're not just getting a cleaning, they're getting an opportunity to have their brushing and flossing technique evaluated. The removal of tartar is another benefit because once plaque has hardened, it can’t be removed by brushing alone... a dentist has special tools that can remove it. With the six month recall, they’ll also get the chance to have a professional fluoride treatment, which helps strengthen your child's teeth, further preventing cavities and decay.Top