What to Expect at a Dental Exam for Children Under Three Years Old

A good children’s dentist understands that infants and toddlers may become distressed when taken away from their primary caregiver. At Bay Area Kids Dentist, we would never expect such a young child to get through the appointment without a parent being right there. We encourage you to walk or carry your child back to the exam room and keep him or her on your lap the entire time.
The purpose of a well-baby oral exam is to check the gums, jaws, and any primary teeth that have erupted to ensure everything is developing as expected. We may or may not polish your child’s teeth, depending on how many he or she has as well as their condition. When we do polish the teeth, it helps to remove plaque, tartar, and stains that have already developed. X-rays typically aren’t necessary until much later in childhood.

Preparing Your Child for a Successful First Dental Appointment

In any situation, children look to adults to understand how to respond to a situation. A parent’s response will let them know if they should be excited, sad, happy, or afraid. So let start by making their experience a happy one. Let your child know that cleaning your teeth is a good choice. Part of taking care of your teeth is going to the dentist. Explain, that the dentist wants to teach your child how to take care of their teeth and count how many teeth they have. Your tone should be relaxed or excited. If they hear that you are anxious, they will be too. Even if your child can’t speak yet, he or she can detect your emotions.

For younger children, morning appointments are best because they are alert and fresh.  Younger children do best after a good night’s sleep and before it’s time for lunch and a nap.  Arrive early to allow your child time to acclimate to our office.  By preparing your child for their visit, you can help them have a better experience.

Information We Need to Get Started

Even if your child is only a few years old, it’s helpful to have a complete medical history. This provides us with advanced knowledge about special health or development issues that may affect dental treatment. If your child is eating solid foods, we will ask you to describe a typical daily diet. We know from experience that some foods cause higher risks than others do when it comes to developing tooth decay and other common oral health issues.

Another important function of a kid’s dentist is to assess habits such as thumb sucking, pacifier use, or frequently drinking sweetened fruit juice. While these are normal behaviors in young children, they may become problematic if taken to an extreme. We provide parents with information on how various habits affect the development of baby teeth as well as adult teeth.