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PARENT’S GUIDE

Visiting the Dentist

How is a pediatric dentist different from a general dentist?
A general dentist is a dental professional trained to treat patients of all ages. A pediatric dentist has an additional two to three years of specialized training to treat patients from birth – 18 years of age.

Pediatric dentists provide the following services:

  • Family dental education
  • Early detection of oral health problems
  • Care for children with physical, emotional and cognitive challenges
  • Inter-disciplinary dental treatments for children with genetic disabilities, maxillofacial (upper jaw and face) defects and more.

For children unable to manage dental procedures, we can provide sedation or general anesthesia.

Why does my child need dental care if his/her teeth are going to fall out anyway?
Healthy teeth ensure you child’s speech develops normally; she/he can eat properly and feel good about having an attractive smile.

There is a pattern of loss that primary teeth follow to ensure the adult teeth come in the most favourable position. If one or more baby teeth are lost too early, it can delay or dramatically affect the position of adult teeth and braces may be needed to correct this.

Sometimes baby teeth do not fall out. This may be the result of several conditions. There may be no adult tooth ready to replace the baby tooth. A misguided successor tooth may be disrupting the process—this often occurs when your child’s teeth are crowded. Lastly, the root of your child’s baby tooth may be attached to the bone itself, a problem called ankylosis.

Baby teeth, like adult teeth, can develop cavities. If left untreated long enough, this can lead to a life-threatening infection (See question about cavities below). The above factors make proper dental care important to a child’s current and future health.

At what age should my child start seeing a dentist?
The factors necessary for cavities (i.e. bacteria, exposure to sugars, teeth ) are present as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts. So we recommend a child be seen around his/her first birthday.

Early check-ups can also reveal any high risk areas for cavity formation associated with baby and adult teeth. It can also provide insight into the growth and development of adult teeth that haven’t yet erupted—giving you options to address them ahead of time.

It is important to know if there are any extra or missing permanent teeth while developing an individualized treatment plan for your child. Missing permanent teeth can affect how baby teeth are managed. Starting visits early also helps your child to develop a lifetime of good dental habits.

How often should children visit the dentist?
Generally, we recommend that children see a dentist every six months. This may vary depending on your child’s needs, his/her eating habits and how well the teeth are cared for.

What can I do to prepare my child for a first dental clinic visit?
The first clinic visit is an important one as it can influence how your child feels about dental visits and dental care.

North Calgary Pediatric Dentistry (NCPD) is a child-friendly place and our staff will do everything possible to make your child feel comfortable for an enjoyable first visit.

There are things you can do as well:

  • Explain to your child that the dentist is a special doctor that looks after teeth and makes sure they stay strong and healthy.
  • Be relaxed. Children pick up on a parent’s anxiety. Present the dental visit as a positive experience.
  • Avoid trying to reassure your child by using phrases such as “it won’t hurt” or “there’s nothing to be afraid of.” These kinds of comments can introduce ideas of fear where none existed prior.
  • Don’t allow others to relay their negative feelings about dentists to your child.
  • Set a good example by brushing and flossing your own teeth and visiting the dentist regularly.

What can I expect during the first visit?
On a first visit, we will help your child get familiar with the clinic. We will explain our procedures to him/her using easy words. We will also answer any questions you may have.

During our examination we will count your child’s teeth, look at the structure of his/her mouth as well as the bite. We will discuss your concerns, if any, and create a treatment plan to promote dental health.

We usually clean a child’s teeth on the first visit, however the doctors may recommend this for a second visit so your child can become comfortable visiting the office.

Depending on your child’s age and needs, we may take an X-ray and apply fluoride to protect teeth.

The x-rays taken look between the teeth (bitewing x-rays) and may also provide insight into the health of the root (periapical x-ray). Panormaic x-rays are taken to see a more generalized view of your childs growth and development.

For children who are referred from a general dentist, we ask that you bring all recent x-rays that were taken at his/her clinic as well as any referral notes. A legal guardian must accompany a child to this visit and all other visits unless you’ve made other arrangements with our office. A legal guardian in the latter situation must be available by phone to review the day’s findings/procedures.