I don’t know how many times my friends ask when their children should see a dentist, so I’d like to offer my children’s dental tips to help many other parents out there. Many say they help their son or daughter brush every day or that their child does a good job on their own. A very simple guideline to follow is for children to be seen around age 1 or approximately 6 months after teeth start coming in. We are quite comfortable doing screenings and education with parents and children up until they are ready to have the chair for themselves! My assistants and I enjoy spending time with patients and their parents teaching them how to brush and helping parents learn to floss those pesky back teeth.
What is a one year-old’s appointment like? We will invite the parent to bring their little ones to a brief visit in the office. At such a young age, we are only trying to assess for areas of decay or tooth development concerns, along with educating parents on homecare and what to look for. For a child under age 3, we utilize a different exam code at a lower fee to establish the child as a patient. We will do these quick checks up until the parents think their child is ready to have a cleaning.
Does a child’s appointment cost the same as an adult’s? The simple answer is no! Children receive simple cleanings on fewer teeth. We use a fee specific to children for their cleanings! We also offer a fluoride varnish which is painted on teeth if the parent is so inclined for their child to receive this. After the initial visit, we use the same recall (or periodic) exam fee for all patients and only charge this when we perform an exam. We take X-rays as the doctor prescribes them (meaning not “routine x-rays”). Every child is different. Some tolerate x-rays and some don’t! We like to start easy with “cookie bite” pictures of teeth.
What if my child doesn’t want to get in the chair or won’t sit still? We want the experience to be enjoyable for kids! We won’t push the issue with them. We can try having the parent sit with their child and ride in the chair with them, or let the child see what mom or dad does first. Tell Show Do works very well for many children of all ages. The important thing is respecting their space and their wishes. Some children just don’t want to go through a visit, so we start considering a pediatric dentist if needed.
How often should kids come in? Ideally, children should be seen every 6 months. This allows us to perform proper hygiene procedures, complete a recall exam to assess for decay or changes in growth and development, and take x-rays when they are necessary. We also will be able to let parents know if their children need to visit with an orthodontist at these visits beginning around age 6 or 7 as adult teeth begin to replace baby teeth.
What should I do to help promote or excite kids about the dentist? We want them to be excited to come in! Bribery doesn’t always work, so it’s important to let them know that it feels so good to go to the dentist and have your teeth nice and clean. They can be excited to go have special pictures taken of their teeth (with a camera so they can see their teeth, not just with x-rays!!!) We want them to be proud of not having cavity bugs in their teeth, so it’s usually a good motivator to work with them and teach them at home how to brush (and floss ) so they can be part of the no-cavity crew!
We are fortunate to live in a community that values health and wellness. Treating our children responsibly and with decay prevention in mind goes a long way in preventing the need for fillings or work that may stress our little ones out! For patients who need dental visits for more extensive pediatric care, we are blessed to have several very good pediatric dentists in our valley. I am happy to coordinate referrals when needed so that our patients receive the best and most comfortable care they can receive.
Why see a pediatric dentist vs a general dentist? Pediatric dentists have received special training and have many years of experience working with children of all ages and their families. When children need a little extra help getting through a procedure or sedation, we suggest visiting with a pediatric dentist (or two) to see if the fit is right for you and your children. Treating children quickly with high-quality care is a very special skill. Pediatric dentists are a very valuable resource for our patients!
My Child is 4 and won’t sit for a dentist appointment? As with a 2 year old, we will be patient, explain the visit, and use a gentle touch with older kids. Many 4-5 year olds do very well at the dentist, but for those who have a hard time, this is a good time to consider a pediatric dentist.
The staff and I sincerely hope you will consider us for your children’s dental healthcare needs as well as your own! If you’re interested in more information about our children’s dental tips, you can contact the office at 541-708-6288 or stop in Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays between 8 and 5, or Wednesdays after 2.
Sincerely, The WDS Team