Pediatric dentist...more Questions

Updated on April 30, 2012
L.K. asks from Milwaukee, WI
16 answers

I'm new to all of this and my son is 17 months. When do I take him to the dentist. One office I called said when they have 8-10 teeth which was a while back, one said 18 months, one said 2 years. The one that said 18 months said they will do a cleaning at the appt. is that correct? How do they clean an 18 month olds teeth? Mine is so squirmy and won't open for the pediatrician. I've heard of offices places that use gas or anesthesia which I'm against. This particular office said they use neither.
So what happens at a first appt?
Also I've heard of places that try to recommend things they shouldn't, what are those things? What should I be on the lookout for?

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answers from Dallas on

I took my youngest for the first time when she was 2 1/2. They did a short cleaning and looked her over. She's 4 now and just sits well and lets them do it without fear. I didn't take my oldest until she was 4 or 5 and she's 11 now and has never had a cavity.

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answers from Omaha on

The general rule of thumb for the first appointment is sometime between 1 and 3 years. My son and daughter went to their first appointment together. She was 2 and he was 3. They both checked out just fine. I do highly recommend going to a pediatric dentist though. Just because this is the audience they work with all the time, so they understand squirmy kids. Our dentist's office has a row of chairs and a team of hygenists working at all times. They have video games and tv's on the ceiling and a treasure box at the end. They keep things moving before kids get bored. My kids actually enjoy it! Basically all they do is clean the teeth and put some flouride on. They do x-rays and the dentist looks at the teeth. It is pretty simple. As long as you are brushing your child's teeth and not putting him to bed with a bottle/cup of milk or snacks, then the likelihood of cavities is pretty slim. Good luck!

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answers from Santa Fe on

When I have asked, they say take the kids shortly after they get teeth. When talking to the pediatric dentist that we go to, he is seeing kids that at age 4 have many (like 8+) cavities. So much is dependent on eating habits and brushing.
That said, I have taken my kids starting at about a year. (Sounds crazy, I know.) When they are that small, they can quickly clean the child's teeth - my kids have always tolerated this without any problems. They have me sit knee to knee with the hygienist/dentist, and hold the baby, then lean the baby back into the other lap. The baby has been totally fine, as mom is right there, and they (the hygienist/dentist) can get to the teeth. The whole experience is pretty quick - especially because they don't have that many teeth.
By age 2 my kids have been OK sitting up in the 'big' (but child size) chair on their own. They have not done fluoride until 2.5 or so.

They really want the kids to have a positive view of the dentist, so no matter the age, the first few cleanings are going to be minimally invasive and VERY positive.
My dentist has never recommended anything other than what I am already doing. (We brush teeth and floss nightly, no food/drink after that.) My 13month old we brush his teeth occasionally, but not nightly yet. (To be fair, he only has 2 teeth, so it is not too big of a deal.)

We have never had a problem at the dentist, or with cavities.

I asked how the kids can have that many cavities at such a young age, and he said that they can be drinking cokes and sodas and chocolate milk all the time. That much sugar and other acids on their teeth will cause problems. (He had a child show up for the post 10 cavities filling check, carrying a bottle of coke with him.... at age 4.... hard to believe.)
If you are avoiding those things already, then older is probably fine.
(I have bad teeth, despite high amount of dental self care, and appts.... so I am trying to get the kids off to a better start.... That and wanting them to be comfortable with the dentist is why we start early.
I recently had an appt and had to spend the day before listening to the kids complain that *I* had an appt, why didn't THEY have an appt! Odd kids, I suppose, but it works for us. :)
At 18 months, they can work with the child. It is not like an adult cleaning, no scraping.... Just brush, floss, polish... it is really fast, if they are good. :)
Hope that helps... sorry it is so long. :)

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answers from Chicago on

My pediatrician recommends taking them when they're three. I did that with my older kids, and will do the same with my youngest. He's 2.5 now. Prior to that, just make sure to brush your child's teeth really well after meals. There is no reason to put him through a cleaning any younger that that.

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answers from Chicago on

We don't go to a pediatric dentist, but our regular dentist sees our kids and he is great with them. He recommended when they turn 3. They also recommended that before their first visit they come with to watch their parent have their cleaning so they can see what is involved and that it doesn't hurt. They did a teeth counting, basic cleaning (with the polishing brush that tickles) and fluoride. It is pretty quick and all of my kids did great with it. Then they got a toy afterwards, so they love going to the dentist! He basically said they just want to get kids used to it at that age when they are a bit too young to really be too scared of it.

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answers from Chicago on

Our pediatric dentist recommends 12 months but I wait until 18 months with my kids. At 18 months they clean the teeth with a regular toothbrush. They count the teeth, look for cavities, and paint on a child friendly flouride. At my daughter's 2.5 yr appt she was able to sit in the seat by herself, get x-rays, and have a regular cleaning with the electric brush. She was squirmy to some extent at 18 months, better at 2, and totally fine at 2.5.

Mine hasn't recommended anything out of the ordinary, I am very happy with them. We go to Naperville Dental Specialists in downtown Naperville.

Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

My daughters both went to the dentist when they were between 2 and 3 years old. Before their first appointment, they went with me to my appointment and sat on my lap for awhile and watched me get my teeth cleaned while sitting on their dad's lap.

I really like my dentist and never needed or was interested in a pediatric dentist for my kids. They have alway just gone to her. She's really good with kids.

Can your son go to the dentist with you sometime to see how it all works? Do you like and trust your dentist? You son could always just go there with you.

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answers from Dallas on

I took my daughter when she was a little over 2 because o thought she had a chipped tooth. They looked around her mouth and counted her teeth, and said to bring her back in a year or so when she was 3. At that appt, they did pretty much the same thing. At her 4yr appointment, the xrayed, cleaned her teeth for the first time and painted flouride on her teeth. Unless there's something wrong, I don't know that it's necessary until close to 3yrs.

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answers from New York on

Unless you have concerns about your child's teeth (chipping, bottlerot) ect, there is really no reason to bring them before 2. This is especially true if they are not good with grooming. My went through a year long phase of crying at the hairdressers that ended shortly before he turned 3. He had good teeth so I brought him at 3 and he actually did great! I would also stick with a pediatric dentist. This last appt when he was 4, he was able to sit by himself and he had less "oral defensiveness" aka, would open his mouth better. I would wait and don't worry about gas, ect because that is if they kid has lots of cavities. Just brush with a flouride toothpaste at least twice a day and have your child drink water with meals and minimize candy.

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answers from San Francisco on

We had (have) a great family dentist and we have always gone there. If you like your dentist and if s/he is child friendly then there's no need to take your son anywhere else. If you don't want to ask or take your son to your own dentist, then ask around for local referrals.
We took our kids for their first visit and cleaning (pretty minimal) between two and a half and three years old, per our dentist's recommendation. No big deal.

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answers from Washington DC on

I didn't even take my dd to the dentist until she was 6! However, she has very good oral hygiene. We brush at least 2-3 times/day and even floss.

They really didn't even do anything except clean her teeth. They reiterated that she had good oral it didn't hurt for us to wait until she was 6. She finally got x-rays when she turned 8.

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answers from Lakeland on

I took my daughter at 3 and they did a cleaning. IMO 17 months seems a little too young for a cleaning with fluoride tooth paste since they will swallow it. The two pediatric dentists my daughter has seen said to not give her fluoride until she could spit it all out.

You are your child’s advocate so stay with him. Some of them like to take the kids in alone and I don't like that at all. I want to see what’s going on. A good dentist will only use anesthesia when it is absolutely necessary.

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answers from Chicago on

Our Pediatrician said at 2 that our daughter could go to the dentist. Our dentist (the same one my hubby and I use - after my own experience, my children will NOT see a pediatric dentist) said he didn't want to see her until 3. The first visit was her sitting in the chair and him "counting her teeth" and a brief exam. The second visit was a little more in depth, but she was scared, so he didn't push it. She just had her third appointment (she just turned 4) and he polished her teeth because she asked him too. He said that she would get a cleaning on her next appointment in the fall.
The biggest thing - no matter who you go to - is that they let you stay in the room and that your kids are comfortable.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

When we took my grandson to the pediatric dentist, at 20 months, they played with him for a while until her felt comfortable. They made it a game for him to open his mouth. They continued to play while they cleaned the teeth. Which consisted with them using a flavored gel and a rubber like tooth brush. It tasted good and he enjoyed it.

The only time they should put him to sleep is if they do ANY work on his teeth. There is no reason on earth for him to have that kind of experience. He does not need to be awake while they give him shots in the mouth, drill and scrap away decay, etc...he will remember it and will hate going to the dentist forever after.

I think it is much more humane to let them get an IV, go to sleep, wake up a few minutes later with everything done at once. It is so much easier on everyone.

So if he does ever need work done let them put him to sleep long enough to get it done in a hurry.

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answers from Kansas City on

I've always heard that you don't need to go to the dentist (unless there are obvious issues) until the age of 3. Only on this site have I heard of people taking their kids much before that. Even my personal dentist and my daughter's pediatric dentist have said it's fine to wait. Obviously you are getting conflicting professional opinions, so that's kind of odd, but
personally, I would wait until at least 2 if not 3. My son is 2.5 and he barely lets me brush his teeth, I couldn't imagine what a nightmare the dentist would be! I think at 3 they have more of a cognitive ability to deal with the idea and the procedure of the dentist's office.

My daughter went for the first time just past her 3rd birthday and I had prepped her ahead of time, but they did the whole exam and cleaned her teeth, etc. She loved it and had the best time! I feel like by the time my son goes, he will be ready too. You don't want to traumatize them and have them fear the dentist, that's for sure!

I think as long as you are still brushing his teeth for him, even if he does it first, and he doesn't eat a ton of sugary foods or juices, you are just fine waiting! Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

A good age is about 2. Don't assume that all pediatric dentist will try to scam you. They do look out for your child, most have enough business that they don't need to scam people.

When the timing is right, I strongly suggest the sealants. Our daughter is 17 and never had any decay or orthodontic treatment. Being proactive and having routine care is beneficial in the long run.

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