We love to treat kids! Once when the office was full of kids we had a parent in with their child for the first time ask, "Do you also treat adults?" Recommendations have changed in recent years, and now we like to see children for their first dental visit earlier than we used to, at about the age of 1, or when their first teeth erupt. The first visit at this age is in large part a parent education visit, discussing issues such as home care techniques, fluoride use, diet, and growth and development. Exams in the early years (up to around age 3) are done in the "knee to knee" position, with the parent holding the child while the dentist takes a look; kids generally accept this better than when placed in the dental chair, physically separated from the parent. In general, we are fine with parents being in the room while their child is being treated. This first visit provides an opportunity to observe the general condition of the teeth and spot any potential problem areas. If a child's mouth is to develop and grow properly, the first (primary) teeth must be healthy. The primary teeth also help to reserve space in the jaws for the permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost too early, the teeth beside it may drift into the empty space. When it's time for the permanent tooth to come in, there may not be enough space for it to assume its proper position. This can make the teeth crooked or crowded, which can affect the child's dental health and appearance.
Fluoride is a special benefit to children because it is incorporated into the enamel as the tooth is being formed. For maximum benefit, fluoride tablets or drops should ideally be taken until the child is twelve years of age. The availability of fluoridated municipal water is limited in Pierce County; check with your water utility for the current status.
Early morning appointments are often best for young children as we have found that children respond in a more favorable manner when they are well rested. Older children sometimes require a more extensive cleaning than what is planned for the initial visit and may need to be scheduled with our hygienist at a future date. Since this is determined on an individual basis, we will be able to advise you of such immediately following the initial examination. All findings and problems will then be thoroughly discussed with parents.