We hear this question frequently at Bright Star, and parents are always surprised by the answer. We should begin seeing your child when their first tooth erupts, or no later than their first birthday. Why so soon? Because starting your child on the right road to good dental habits needs to begin early. One of the most important reasons for that early visit is to establish a bond with your child and our wonderful doctors. It may seem like not a whole lot happens at that first visit, but it sets the groundwork for a life time of good dental health.
We give the younger patients a simple “happy visit”….a ride up and down in the chair and hopefully a first exam by the doctor. While the idea of such a small child getting a dental exam may sound odd, their exam is much different from the one we get when we visit the dentist. For their first visit the doctor attempts to do what’s called a lap exam. Mom and the doctor sit facing each other in a knee to knee position. The little one sits on mom’s lap facing her, and both mom and doctor gently coax the child to lie back with their head on doctor’s lap. In this position, doctor can examine the teeth, gums and general structure of the mouth and spot any possibilities for early childhood cavities…….while the child feels like they’re just playing a little game. If the youngster becomes uncomfortable with the process, we immediately stop and try again in six months.
Remember, the whole point of an office specially designed to see children is to make them comfortable and never let them become frightened of the dentist. About 10% of our little patients cannot handle the lap exam the first time, so we give it a try every 6 months until they’re finally ready. They decide the time frame so they always love coming to the dentist. Also at this visit, you and the doctor get to discuss how to maintain healthy gums and how to care for those first precious teeth. Finally, before they leave, we give your child a special little (age appropriate) prize for being such a good patient. Everything we do at the first visit, and subsequent visits, is designed to make coming to see their special dentist a happy, fun experience. We care about you and your children and we want to be an important part of their overall good health.