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What happens during your child’s first dental visit?

Hi everyone! My name is Vanessa and I am one of the pediatric dental hygienists working here at Dental Associates of Walpole. Here’s a little background about myself:

  • I have been practicing hygiene since 2015.
  • I used to come here for all my dentistry needs throughout my childhood.
  • I have a 3-year-old boy at home named Colton
  • I have a 4-year-old Frug (French bulldog/Pug) at home named Raven

Pediatric dentistry has always been my DREAM job. When I was young, I remember always being anxious about going to get my teeth cleaned. My mom would prepare me a week before my visit and the day would come and my palms would be sweaty as I waited for my name to be called. Every visit ended up being better than the rest! The hygienists would be so calm and explain everything to me so I knew exactly what was going to happen. From that moment- I knew I wanted to work with kids and give them the positive experience that I had despite my anxiety.

So, what happens when it’s time for your child’s first appointment? Let me tell you!

We recommend your child visits the dentist as early as age 1. Why age 1 you may ask? Shouldn’t I wait until all their teeth come in? Well, the answer is no. By a child’s first year, teeth have already began to erupt while other teeth are building beneath the gum. By starting early, we can discuss homecare to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy!

At the first visit- we will bring you and your child into one of our ocean themed operatory’s. We will review any previous dental history and medical history. We may ask questions such as “Does your child have any habits- thumb-sucking or pacifier”, “Does your child go to bed with a bottle”, “Does your town water contain fluoride?”. This is where education comes into play. Childhood caries occur when teeth are frequently exposed to sugary liquids- such as milk or juice. It is very important your child doesn’t go to bed with a bottle. The last thing before bed should either be brushing the teeth and gums with a smear of fluoridated toothpaste or taking a towel and wiping the surface of teeth and gums before placing to sleep. This will remove any coating on the teeth and stimulate the gums. Pacifier and thumb are habits that more likely will exist at infant stage. We will monitor your child’s bite and can ideally ween them off habits by the age of 3. If your town does not contain fluoride don’t worry! Our pediatric dentist will be able to prescribe a chewable tablet or liquid to be taken daily to make sure all future teeth are developing with a strong coating of enamel over them.

Now it’s time to clean!

We will place a fishy bib over your child first. We will then show your child all of our cool things on our tray!

  • Mr. Thirsty- our suction straw
  • Air/water tool used to drying and rinsing teeth
  • Tooth mirror
  • Tooth counter and cleaners
  • Mini towels- gauze
  • Fancy toothbrush
  • Superhero/Princess vitamins (fluoride varnish)

Then we pick a toothpaste flavor. Here’s the options- watermelon, fruit punch, vanilla, mint, bubble gum, grape, and a no flavor.
We will then examine your child’s teeth with our mirror and tooth counter, clean off any debris, shine them up using our special polisher (or toothbrush) and floss! While we wait for the doctor- it’s time for stickers and prizes! We have princess wands, keychains, rubber duckies, whoopie cushions, toy cars, and much more!

Now time for the dentist to check!

The dentist will review any concerns or questions you may have. They will then examine your child's teeth and paint a coating of fluoride varnish vitamins on them. At infant stage- the Dr. will perform a lap to lap exam. What this entails and your child sitting on your lap facing you as your knee to knee with the dentist. We place a bib over the dentist lap and you gently place your child’s head in their lap. The dentist will use a mirror to check the health of all teeth and soft tissues then paint a coating of bubble gum fluoride varnish over the teeth. Ta da! Your visit is complete!

We all look forward to meeting you and your child and making your child’s first visit enjoyable!

By Vanessa Walsh, R.D.H.

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