Pediatric Dentistry

What Can I Expect During My Kid’s First Dentist Visit?

Your child’s first dentist visit is a big milestone in their life—here’s how to prepare for it!

Your child’s smile lights up your world, and as a parent, you want to do everything possible to ensure their smile is bright and healthy. The first step towards investing in your child’s smile now and for the future starts with their first visit with a pediatric dentist.

Unlike general or family dentists, pediatric dentists focus solely on providing expert dental care just for kids. In addition to their expertise in kids’ oral health, pediatric dentists like Dr. Shea are also pros at interacting with children in a manner that boosts their confidence and engages their interest in caring for their teeth!

If you’re considering booking your child’s first appointment with Dr. Shea, here’s everything you need to know for the big day.

When to schedule your child’s first dental appointment.

Before we dive into what to expect during your child’s first dentist visit, let’s go over when parents should book that first appointment.

Dr. Shea highly recommends parents follow the American Dental Association (ADA) and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) guidelines, which advise that a child’s first dental appointment should happen within six months of them getting their first tooth or by their first birthday. After the initial dental visit, you can schedule your kids’ future appointments every six months, unless Dr. Shea recommends more frequent checkups.

How to prepare your child for their first visit with a dentist.

Before your child’s first dental visit, it’s a good idea to help prepare them for the big day. The smoother their first few visits go, the more positive a relationship they’ll develop with their dentist over time.

For babies and toddlers, you can help prepare them by getting them used to their mouths being examined. Take a look inside their mouths and gently feel around their gums with your finger or an infant toothbrush. Keep these sessions short, upbeat, and try to make it a fun game!

For older toddlers and kids, let them know about their new dentist and explain how a dentist is a helpful friend who wants them to have healthy teeth. Go over what may happen during the appointment and be cautious of the lingo you use. You want to keep a positive tone and be careful to not refer to the dentist or dental procedures in a way that may make your child think they have a reason to worry.

Ask your child if they have any questions and do your best to answer them. If your child does tell you they’re afraid, acknowledge this emotion and reassure them. Let them know it’s natural to feel a little worried, but reiterate that there’s no reason to feel afraid of their new dentist or the dental team.

What happens during your child’s first appointment?

Your child’s first dental appointment will be fairly simple and usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

There are two primary goals for a first visit:

  1. For your child to meet their new dentist and the dental team, and begin to develop a trusting relationship with them.
  2. For the dentist to get an idea of your child’s current oral health and to check for signs of trouble.

The bulk of the first appointment will be a thorough oral examination.

After introducing herself to you and your child, Dr. Shea will look inside your child’s mouth once they feel comfortable. She’ll take a close look at their teeth and gums as well as evaluate their bite alignment and jaw structure. For older children, Dr. Shea may also take x-rays.

During the examination, Dr. Shea will explain what she’s seeing and take note of any signs of an oral health issue. If Dr. Shea has found a problem, such as a cavity, she’ll go over what treatment options are available.

Dr. Shea will also go over in detail how to care for your child’s teeth at home.

Dental appointments are really important, but at-home oral hygiene is just as vital to your child’s long-term oral health.

Dr. Shea will explain what type of oral hygiene routine is best suited for your child based on their age. For babies who are just getting their teeth, Dr. Shea will cover how to clean their gums and budding teeth. For toddlers, you’ll learn what oral care products to use and how to introduce teeth brushing.

If your child is already learning to brush their own teeth, Dr. Shea will have them practice brushing and flossing so you and your child can get refreshed on proper technique together.

Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you or your child might have.

There’s nothing Dr. Shea and her team love more than answering any question our patients’ inquisitive minds can think up. Encourage your child to ask us any questions they might have about their teeth or about dentists in general.

Parents should also feel free to ask us any questions they might have about their child’s oral health, whether it’s about picking the right kids’ toothpaste or what a smile-friendly diet looks like.

Ready to book your child’s first appointment with Dr. Shea?

Once you and your child are ready to meet Dr. Shea and her team, all you need to do is call our office or fill out our online appointment request form. Be sure to fill out the New Patient forms before their appointment, if you can to streamline your visit.

We look forward to meeting you and your family!


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When Kids Go Back to School Amid COVID-19

Help your children prepare for a return to school.

Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives, from our social lives to our work and our kids’ education. 

By May, state officials closed the schools in 48 states for the rest of the 2020 academic year. That left more than 50 million public school students to finish out the school year from home. 

The question is, what about school in September? And when kids go back to school, what will education look like?

While state and local leaders are still deciding how to handle the upcoming school year, there are a few ways you can prepare. Read on to learn how you can help your child navigate the uncertainty and enjoy a healthy return to school. 

Understand the COVID-19 safety guidelines for your child’s school.

While there’s still a lot of uncertainty about whether or not schools will open in the fall, your child’s school might adopt some of the CDC’s reopening guidelines. Once the school releases a plan, make sure to read it carefully so you and your child know what to expect. 

Some schools might stagger the drop-off and pick-up times for students. The school might require mask-wearing, especially for older students. They may also space desks 6 feet apart and encourage kids to bring their own meals. 

Some schools across the country have also considered doing a combination of in-person and remote learning. Half of the student body might do in-person learning on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other half on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This would cut down on the number of students at the school. 

Again, these are just some of the possibilities for school reopening, no plans are set in stone. Always check with your local school district to make sure you stay up to date with their guidelines. 

Get organized for the back to school season.

Despite all the uncertainty, some things about the school year won’t change. Kids will still need school supplies and clothes that fit. 

First, shop for the essential school supplies, like a backpack, notebooks, and pencils. You may need to do some of this shopping online or you can repurpose the supplies you already have. 

It’s also helpful to set up a command center using a file folder and a whiteboard. Your kids can keep their homework organized and you can write reminders on the board. You could also add a backpack hook to keep everything in one place. 

It’s also a good idea to set up a designated homework area for your kids. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just make sure it’s free of clutter and gives them enough space to work. A homework space will put them in the right mindset so they’ll be ready to hit the books when they get home on the first day. 

Create a master family calendar.

When schools reopen amid COVID-19, there’s a good chance everyone’s normal schedules will change. School pick-up and drop-off times might be staggered and you might only go into the office three days a week. 

It’s hard to juggle all of these new schedules on top of your normal stress. Luckily, creating a master family calendar can help you stay organized. 

You can use a paper calendar, a whiteboard calendar, or even a Google calendar. Try using a different colored marker for each family member to keep you on track. 

Re-establish your family’s sleep routine.

Even for the most organized families, school mornings can be stressful and hectic. Because of extended stay-at-home orders, remote learning, and then summer break, it’s understandable if you’ve gotten lax about bedtimes and morning alarms.

But, without that sleep routine, those first few days back to school can feel even more chaotic. 

To ease the transition, start setting an alarm for the time you’d need to get the kids up for a normal day of school. Have your kids do their morning routine—get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth—just like they would for a normal school day.

Try to stick to this routine for a week or two before school starts. 

Take care of important health-care appointments. 

Just like any other school year, it’s important to take your child for their annual physical—some grades even require it. Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s very important to follow the CDC’s vaccine schedule. The annual physical is the best time to see if your child is up to date on vaccinations. 

You should also make time to take your child to a pediatric dentist for a professional dental cleaning. If your child has a cavity or incorrect brushing habits, a dentist can catch those issues before they get any worse. 

Our mouths play a large role in our overall health. That’s why you should make sure your kids keep brushing and flossing regularly, even during quarantine. 

How to cope when kids go back to school.

In the last few months, both kids and adults have had to adjust to lots of uncertainty. It’s important to remember this fact if your kids seem stressed after returning to school. 

The best thing you can do is to talk to them and listen. It’s important to reassure them, but be honest about what’s happening. If they’re sad or disappointed, acknowledge that those feelings are valid. 

For parents, remember to take one day at a time and try to stay flexible. If you’re feeling stressed, try cutting down on screen time and getting some more exercise.

It’s also helpful to have something to look forward to—whether it’s family movie night or takeout from your favorite restaurant. If either you or your kids are feeling overwhelmed or depressed, reach out to a mental health professional for help. 

Start preparing for the new school year.

While it’s not clear whether or not learning will be in person when kids go back to school, it’s still a good idea to prepare. That way, even if your child doesn’t go back for in-person learning, you’re all set up for a great school experience at home. 

In the meantime, don’t forget to book an appointment to see a kids dentist. Dr. Shea offers family dentistry care for kids from infancy into their teen years. Contact us today to request a visit and make an appointment.