I always remember going to the dentist growing up, every 6 months to a year, for a good teeth cleaning and x-rays. When we had our son, the question came to mind, when is the right age to take him to the dentist? There are several things you, as a parent, can do to research the answer to this question. Please note, this is just from our experience, we are by no means experts, but wanted to relay our story to help those who have had this same question.
We started our research by asking our pediatrician. Our pediatrician, at Pediatric and Adolescent Care in Tulsa, has been wonderful to work with and is very knowledgeable so we trusted her judgement. They truly care about their patients and make you feel like part of their family. She recommended Barrett visit the dentist when he was between the ages of 1 to 3 years. Yes, I was one of those “new-first time moms” that asked the question pretty early. Some may say I was a bit of a worry wart when Barrett was a baby! He was probably around 6 months when we began our research about the dentist.
Teeth are very important and must be cared for starting at a very young age. We searched the web and found that WebMD was very helpful and had some informative articles; our pediatrician’s practice also provided some great information. Here’s a recent article from WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/caring-babies-teeth#1 , that may help those moms who find themselves in the same boat I was in about 5 years ago. As this article states, you want to start using a soft toothbrush on your baby as soon as the teeth start popping up. This helps the gums and growth of the tooth. We found a similar article when Barrett was that age, so we wet his baby toothbrush and started “brushing” his new teeth.
Fast forward two to three years, and Adam and I must decide on a dentist. We immediately assumed a pediatric dentist was the way we wanted to go. We googled some local pediatric dentists, read their reviews, and decided on one. We took him to his first appointment and had an overall good experience. It was very kid-friendly, had fun games in the waiting room, and a TV to occupy him while being seen. Barrett was able to sit in my husband’s lap while being seen. We left feeling good about the visit and scheduled Barrett’s next checkup for 6 months.
We kept this schedule for a time or two until one of the visits, we were told that he needed crowns on his back teeth as the enamel didn’t grow fully. We didn’t feel comfortable making the decision at that time as they were still baby teeth and would eventually fall out. The pediatric dentist wanted us to schedule his procedure at that time, which we said we would call back. We felt pressured as we kept receiving appointment notices for a procedure we never scheduled. We weren’t given a whole lot of information on the reasoning, so we decided to get a second opinion.
Life happened and, to be honest, I kept putting off finding a new dentist for him for way too long. I’m a little ashamed to say, but a few years passed. Gosh, time seems to fly by! I have had wonderful experience with my dentist and her office, Tulsa Hills Dental Care, so when I had my cleaning appointment I asked if they accept new patients and see children. They were happy to help, so I scheduled my son an appointment with them. We hyped up Barrett and he was actually excited to go to the dentist again! They got us right in, took lots of pictures, and x-rays, cleaned his teeth, explained the importance of brushing, all the good new patient items.
The hygienist was very laid back and explained everything she was doing to Barrett, which made him feel so comfortable. After reviewing the x-rays and visiting with the dentist, we learned that he had some cavity spots on his back molars that we needed to take care of. Both the dentist and hygienist explained everything to Barrett and myself. Since they were his back molars and still his baby teeth, we needed to preserve them as much as possible as the typical age to lose those teeth is about 13 years old. In addition to the cavity spots, Barrett has some overcrowding, and an adult tooth coming in early behind one of his molars which was causing some chipping. They explained what was happening in a way that Barrett understood and they asked if he, as the patient, had any questions. It was great seeing the interaction of the dentist with him.
The front office presented the treatment plan, asked if we had any questions, and if we felt comfortable to proceed. I, as a mother, felt no way pressured at this point. Again, they were very laid back, and wanted to assure the best treatment for our son. After the office explained the treatment plan, we agreed to move forward. The hygienist put a sealant on a couple areas and we scheduled a follow up visit a few weeks from now. They are going to work on one side of his mouth at a time – putting a couple caps and fillings. Thankfully we went to the dentist during the summer so we can get all the work done before school starts in August.
Looking back, the pediatric dentist was probably right at the time but when your son is so little you don’t want to have any “unnecessary” procedures done. We felt pressured and didn’t receive enough information at the pediatric dentist. I, am by no means, saying don’t go to a pediatric dentist. There are several of our friends who go to one and have had nothing but positive things to say. For us, it just worked out better to go a different direction. The bottom line is you and your child have to both be comfortable with the dentist you choose. Make sure they explain what they are doing and don’t pressure you.