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Babies and Toddlers

"Someone who can't hear their name being called repeatedly but can hear a bag of chips being opened through three walls and a thunderstorm." 

Babies & Toddlers (0-3+ years old): 
First Dental Visit 

Establishing a "Dental Home" as young as 6-months of age ensures parents get the education they need to help avoid future dental issues and disease, and it also introduces preventive and routine oral healthcare and begins to build a child's experience with the dentist so that they LOVE going to the dentist and are less prone to developing dental anxiety.

Each baby and toddler will be different, and it is important that the parent(s) and Dr. Beth communicate before and during the appointment to best respond and support the child's experience. We block an hour for these visits, knowing that very little of that time will actually be spent looking in the child's mouth, but instead gives us plenty of time to do many other things that are an important part of our objectives listed above. A typical baby/toddler visit will include the following:

At-Home Play & Preparation

The more a family can practice for this first dental visit, typically the better the visit goes. I encourage parents to discuss with enthusiasm how fun the dentist can be, and how excited you are to get to meet Dr. Beth and visit her office. It can be helpful, in addition to your normal tooth brushing routine at night, to have other times where you have your child lay on the couch or rest their head back in your lap and open wide for you to "count their teeth". All of these techniques help a child learn that this is normal and okay, and it makes it that much easier for them to comply during their first dental visit.

It is CRITICALLY important that a parent be cognizant of how they talk about the dentist, especially if they have a history of dental anxiety or dental trauma. Children even as young as 0-3 years old can be very perceptive and often adopt their parents' mood, sentiment, fears, etc. So if you are a parent who has had a negative experience at the dentist, one of the best gifts you can give your child is an opportunity to have a different experience, and that starts with your conversations at home before their first visit. 

Introduction to Dr. Beth & Tour the Office

A dental office has a lot of new and different sounds, smells, tools, rooms, etc. that can be a lot to take in for a little one. Starting with an office tour with Dr. Beth can help us build rapport and allows us to show the child that these new sounds and smells can be cool and funny and not scary or cause for concern. 

Review History & Any Chief Concerns

While the child may not have been here for long, there's plenty to discuss to ensure we are on the same page as far as medical history and concerns. Other topics we will discuss include but are not limited to infant feeding history (breast, bottle), oral habits (thumb sucking, pacifier, etc),  sleep and breathing health, nutrition/hydration/supplementation, and hygiene routine. Ideally, if we can review much of this information pre-operatively (ie. on the phone or by email prior to the appointment), this can give Dr. Beth a lot of leverage in building immediate rapport, and it also decreases any child "downtime" where they may get bored during the visit. But that always can't be accommodated, so we will do our best to cover everything we need throughout the appointment pending your child's behavior and preference. 

Exam

There is a LOT that Dr. Beth is learning and observing during this first visit well before she ever has the patient lean back to look in their mouth. Knowing a detailed history, observing if the child is breathing through their nose or mouth, looking for dark circles under their eyes or chapped lips, spacing or crowding in the baby teeth, how the child tries to talk and move their tongue, how they swallow a sip of water. All of these behaviors and more demonstrate a child's myofunctional balance, stage of dental eruption, sleep patterns and/or breathing compromises, etc. When we are leaning the patient back, whether that is in the parent's lap or in the dental chair, it takes Dr. Beth not too much time to collect the additional information she needs to have accurate baseline data on your child.

Anatomy she will be checking and conditions she will be looking for include: 

  • Jaw development and dental eruption patterns 

  • Soft tissue posture and function (lip and tongue ties, range of motion of the tongue, lip position at rest and while swallowing, etc)

  • Early evidence of malocclusion and/or restricted growth 

  • Oral habits that may be impacting dental health

  • Dental hygiene and decay check 

  • Nasal patency, breathing health, and tonsillar swelling

Review Next Steps & Reward Great Behavior

At the end of the visit, we always have plenty of time to review any questions and to clarify the parent(s)' "homework" prior to your child's next visit. And most importantly (at least to the toddlers), the child can visit our "Treasure Chest" to pick a toy as a reward for such outstanding behavior! That positive reinforcement is important, and a key component to them learning that.

Got questions? Feel free to email Dr. Beth directly at beth@doradodentalwellness.com. Otherwise, book your child's first visit below:

Book an Appointment Now

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