The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a child’s first dental visit to be within 6 months of their first tooth erupting, or by their first birthday at the latest. During these early visits, Dr. Jessie will examine your child’s mouth and teeth to check for appropriate development and to determine if there are any signs of cavities. Baby teeth can be at risk for developing cavities as soon as they erupt in the mouth, and it is possible for children under the age of 2 to have cavities. One of the most important aspects of these early visits is the oral health education that is provided to ensure parents have the proper tools and assistance to help prevent decay. Children who visit the dentist at a young age are at a significantly lower risk for developing cavities throughout the rest of their childhood, partially due to the fact the dentist can detect early stages of cavities and provide instructions and conservative treatment to prevent the progression of these spots before they need to be treated more aggressively with fillings, crowns, or extractions.
For the visit, knee-to-knee or “lap treatment” is used to safely and comfortably position your child for the dentist to be able to perform the exam most effectively and quickly. You will sit knee-to-knee with Dr. Jessie while your child lays partially in your lap and her lap. You will be able to hold your child’s hands and your child will be able to look up and see you throughout the visit. This positioning also allows for Dr. Jessie to be able to point out areas of the mouth to the parent for you to see directly, and demonstrate techniques for you to use while brushing your infant’s teeth at home.
You may be concerned that your child is too young to cooperate at the dentist or will yell and be unhappy for the visit. An advantage to seeing a pediatric dentist, just as many parents take their children to pediatricians, is that Dr. Jessie understands childhood development and behavior and was trained in ways to complete examinations without expecting perfect behavior. In fact, sometimes when young children are crying and yelling, they have their mouths wide open for the perfect view! The younger a child starts seeing the dentist, the sooner they will become accustomed to the routine. Ideally, these early visits will help prevent cavities for your child and allow for multiple easy, pain-free appointments, helping prevent the development of dental anxiety. Even if your child would require treatment at an older age, they will have developed a trusting relationship with the dentist making them more likely to be able to tolerate and cooperate for the treatment needed.