At what age should my child first visit the dentist?

Dr. George during a check-up

Our office, as well as the The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend establishing a "Dental Home" for your child by one year of age. Children who have a dental home are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care.

For little ones 18 months or younger, Dr. George offers a complimentary "Baby Smiles" Check Up. At this visit, we will do an oral screening, provide you with oral hygiene instructions, and discuss pacifier, finger, or other oral habits. After a "Baby Smiles" appointment, we suggest a periodic six month routine checkup. Once Dr. George feels the child is ready to begin cleanings, these will proceed approximately every six months.

You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. If old enough, your child should be informed of the visit and told that Dr. George and the staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. The less to-do concerning the visit, the better.

Additionally, it is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as "needle", "shot", "pull", "drill" or "hurt". We make a practice of using words that convey the same message (for example, “wiggle”), but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.

What should you expect at your child’s first visit?

Staff making hand hearts

You’ll be greeted by one of our friendly team members who will sit down and take time to introduce you to our practice and answer any questions you might have. You’ll also meet our favorite great big kid, Dr. George! He will become acquainted with your family and perform a complete dental exam on your child.

After the exam, we get to show off our amazing office. You will see all the fun features including movies on the ceiling, our special dental “loungers”, Dr. George’s cool x-ray machine that takes pictures of teeth, and our toy-filled Treasure Tower. You might even get a sneak peek at our pizza themed lunchroom—our building was a pizza restaurant a long time ago! Our main goal is to make sure that your child is comfortable with the setting and our team before any dental work is done.

Your first visit will conclude with a special photo of your child and Dr. George before making a stop at the Treasure Tower (where Dr. George is famous for handing out extra toys!). Finally, we will schedule your child’s first official dental cleaning.

At all of your following visits, we will encourage your child’s active participation by asking questions about school or daycare, hobbies, friends, pets or anything special they would like to share with us. You will hear us use kind and gentle words (we never talk about “shots”, “drills”, “pulling”, or “hurting”) when we explain treatment and procedures. Of course, you are more than welcome to join your child during these visits so you can brag later about how wonderfully your child listened and behaved!

What do I tell my child about seeing the dentist?

Dr. George with two smiling patients

Give your child the opportunity to hear of pleasant dental experiences, only. It is best to tell a child about a dental visit the night before the appointment. Of course, always refer to the Doctor as “Our Friend, Dr. George”.

Please convey the feeling that dental visits are a part of growing up. Don’t offer rewards or indicate in any way that there is something to fear. Should you try to bolster a child’s courage prior to the dental visit, it may have the opposite effect and frighten them. We offer a safe haven for your child; a professional dental office with an informal atmosphere for the comfort of all children. Don’t let the child know you feel any anxiety about going to the dentist and don’t use a dental visit as a punishment or threat. A visit to the dentist should be a delightful adventure for a young child.

If your child should ask searching questions, explain that the Doctor is only going to look at their teeth, and will always explain everything that is going to be done before it happens. In discussing dentistry, please do not use the words: “needle”, “shot”, “drill”, “pull”, “hurt”, or any other words that might have an unpleasant meaning.

Do I stay with my child during the visit?

Dr. George talking to a parent

Yes, you may accompany your child through any and all types of visits (with the exception of a hospital, general anesthesia setting). Dr. George’s philosophy may be different from other general and pediatric dentists. He encourages the family to be with the patient at all times.

We also have a waiting room for parents whose child prefers to be a “big kid” and see the dentist on their own. We leave it up to the family to decide.

In some situations, a child may benefit from separation during the visit. Dr. George may suggest using the parent as a “reward” for good behavior. So the child will come back alone and the parent will be invited to come back after a few minutes. If that is the case, we ask that you allow our staff to accompany your child through the dental experience.

Children’s behavior in the dental office:

Dr. George with Bullard Olympian

Pleasant visits to the dental office help a child establish trust and confidence that will last a lifetime. Pediatric dentists and their staff have been specially trained to help young, apprehensive children feel good about seeing the dentist and taking care of their teeth. Friendly, compassionate professionals and bright, cheerful office surroundings are all there to help your child feel comfortable and at ease with visiting the dentist. We recommend scheduling younger children in the morning, when they are more rested and cooperative.

How often should regular visits be scheduled?

We Strive to Make Each and Every Visit to Our Office Fun!

Ordinarily, periodic recall appointments, which include an examination, preventive dental education, cleaning and fluoride treatments will be recommended twice a year and are usually scheduled every six months. The frequency of dental visits will partly depend on your child’s eating habits; how clean his or her teeth are kept; and if he/she has a history of dental decay.