The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit the dentist by the age of 12 months, or when the first tooth appears. Bringing your child in at this age allows our POW Dental team to evaluate your child, introduce you to proper oral hygiene techniques, and start to build a foundation of trust with your child.
When you and your child arrive at our office, you’ll go to our waiting room area to fill out any necessary paperwork. There you will find refreshments, large screen television and magazines for you to enjoy; and ipad stations with video games, toys, and books for your child.
After you fill out paperwork, our staff will review your child’s health history form with you and discuss any concerns you may have. Your child will then be introduced to our dental team and will be taken on a tour of the office. You are always welcome to accompany your child to the exam area for exams and cleanings, and this will allow Dr. So or Dr. Valdez the opportunity to discuss any dental findings and treatment options directly with you.
Once your child is back in the exam area, he or she will receive a dental cleaning and fluoride, and dental radiographs (x-rays) will be taken when it’s age appropriate and when the doctors feel it’s necessary. If your child needs additional services such as fillings, the doctor will discuss it with you in detail and the treatment will be scheduled for a later visit.
The doctor will also perform a head and neck examination and then evaluate the health and development of your child’s teeth and gums.
During the first visit, we will spend time educating you and your child on proper oral hygiene techniques, and it is critical that you follow up on these techniques at home.
Some children love coming to the dentist from day one and others take time to warm up. Other times children who are very young can be fearful of new environments or can associate the lab gowns, gloves and masks we use with other scary situations. We do most of our cleanings and examinations with our patients in a large open communal space. We find that when a fearful child can observe other children go through the experience positively and not have a fear of being left alone, they can relax into the situation a lot more. Of course having cartoons or a movie playing from the ceiling, goes a long way in having a getting a child more comfortable.
If your child gets upset during the visit, rest assured that it is normal behavior because they are in an unfamiliar situation. Please do not be alarmed or embarassed. We are all trained to help fearful or anxious children through their dental experience, and as your child matures, we hope to encourage his or her independence and promote self-esteem.
If your child is older and has not been to the dentist yet, you should discuss the positive aspects of dentistry with them before the appointment. Try to act relaxed and at ease because if you are stressed and anxious, they will likely be stressed and anxious as well.
Please do not tell your child that the dentist will not hurt because the possibility of pain may have never entered his or her mind. Instead, reassure your child that Dr. So and Dr. Valdez will be friendly and gentle. Also, avoid using words such as needle, shot, drill, pull, or other words that could create anxiety. We will explain our procedures in a kid friendly way that your child can understand and will work to decrease any fear or anxiety they may have. For example, we sometimes call the suction device “Mr. Thirsty” and cavities “sugar bugs.”Overcoming Fear
A common problem that children face is being fearful about coming to the dentist because they are unsure about what will happen. It is normal to be scared of the unknown, and we work with kids every day to help them feel more comfortable so that they can establish a positive relationship with our dentists and staff. We employ a method known as Tell Show Do (TSD), where we attempt to explain what our instruments are, show them the tools in a non-threatening and simple way before we place them in their mouths and do any procedures.
There are several things we do to help kids feel comfortable in our office. For example, when they arrive in the office, we like to take them on a tour of the office to show them the different areas. We also don’t rush them into treatment. Some kids take a while to warm up to our staff and the idea of having someone work in their mouth. We talk with the kids while they are still in the waiting room so they can get to know us better, and when they are in the treatment areas, we show them what we will be doing and use wording that is age-appropriate. Each chair has a television screen hanging over it so that they can watch movies while their teeth are being cleaned.
Finally, and sometimes most importantly, we invite parents to come back and observe their children for their examinations or treatments. Most of the time, parents are so surprised at how well their child can get through treatment. However there are also other times, where we may ask a parent to step outside the door for a few moments in order to refocus a child’s attention on us so that we may get through treatment safely. Please rest assured we will always treat your child as we would our own.
If you have any specific concerns about your child’s first visit, we would love to talk to you about them ahead of time. Just call our office or email us at your convenience.
Most children are calm, comfortable and confident in a pediatric dental office. The office is designed for young people, and pediatric dentists have additional training in caring for infants, children and adolescents. Staff members choose to work in a pediatric dental office because they like children and want to cater to their special needs. These elements combine to make your child feel relaxed and special.
Sometimes, however, a child may feel anxious before or during treatment. Your child may need more support than a gentle, caring manner to feel comfortable. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a safe, effective sedative agent used to calm a child’s fear of the dental visit and enhance effective communication. Additionally, it works well for children whose gag reflex interferes with dental treatment.