What happens during your First Visit?
The first dental visit is usually short. This visit gives your child an opportunity to meet the dentist in a non-threatening and friendly way. Some dentists may ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold their child during the examination. The parent may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist.
What’s involved in a full examination?
During the examination, your dentist will check all of your child’s existing teeth for decay, examine your child’s bite, and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues. He or she will also educate parents about oral health care basics for children and discuss dental developmental issues and answer any questions.
Topics your dentist may discuss with you:
- Good oral hygiene practices for your child’s teeth and gums and cavity protection
- Fluoride needs
- Oral habits (thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking)
- Developmental milestones
- Proper Nutrition
- Schedule of dental check up visits. Many dentists like to see children every 6 months to build up the child’s comfort and confidence level in visiting the dentist, to monitor the development of the teeth, and promptly treat any developing problems.
- If dental problems exist, discuss adequate treatment options for your child and schedule a treatment appointment.
It’s important to know that the parent or legal guardian that accompanies the child for this first visit will be asked to complete medical and health information forms concerning the child. Come prepared with the necessary information.
What is involved in a Dental Cleaning?
Upon arrival at the Sydney Paediatric Dentistry, you will be met and checked in by our reception staff at the front desk. You will then be met by our dental assistant and escorted to our treatment room where you meet our hygienist. We will review your child’s medical history and check regarding any allergies, medical conditions and/or dental concerns related to your child.
Children 18 months and under:
For most children 18 months and under our hygienist will perform a quick visual inspection of their teeth addressing any concerns with you as the parent. The hygienist will review topics of diet and nutrition, tooth eruption, how to properly clean your child’s teeth as well as providing tips on how to prevent Early Childhood Caries. The hygienist may also do a “show and tell” with your child, demonstrating the various instruments used during a typical cleaning. Even at this early age your child may allow us to perform an entire cleaning for them! The hygienist will then have one of our Paediatric Dentists join them to perform an exam of your child’s teeth and mouth and address any additional concerns you may have.
Children 18 months and over:
Your child will be escorted to one of our treatment chairs where they will be able to relax and have their teeth cleaned, which includes cleaning, flossing, fluoride application (to help strengthen the teeth) and dental x-rays (as necessary). The hygienist will also discuss topics of diet and nutrition, tooth eruption, how to properly clean your child’s teeth. The hygienist will begin providing dental care to your child with the “tell show do” method, where each instrument used will be shown and explained to your child. Once your child’s dental cleaning is completed, one of our paediatric dentists will perform a complete examination of your child’s teeth and mouth addressing any additional concerns you may have.
X-rays for my Child
X-rays, also called radiographs, are a valuable diagnostic tool. X-rays help the dentist to:
- See how your child’s teeth are erupting (coming into the mouth)
- See the number, size and position of teeth that are still inside the gums
- Find out whether there are missing teeth or extra teeth
- Monitor mouth and teeth injuries
- Determine whether the teeth or mouth are infected
- Prepare for braces and other orthodontic treatment
- Detect problems that can’t be seen with a visual exam
- Identify bone diseases
There is no standard timetable for when your child’s mouth should be X-rayed. The need varies with the child’s development and dental health. If your child has had many cavities and fillings or has a high risk of tooth decay, your dentist might suggest X-rays every six months. This may continue until the problem is under control. Whether X-rays are needed also depends on how well the child brushes and flosses, and the child’s diet.
Other children may not need X-rays taken as often. If X-rays aren’t taken when they are needed, problems can become worse.
There are five types of X-rays your dentist may use for your child, depending on the goal:
- Bitewing X-rays (also called cavity-detecting X-rays) — These X-rays are used to view the areas between teeth that cannot be seen directly. They show where cavities are starting. These X-rays are needed only after the teeth in the back of the mouth are contacting each other. In some children, this doesn’t happen until the first permanent molar (also called the 6-year molar) has erupted.
- Periapical X-rays — These are used to view the entire crowns and roots of one, two or three adjacent teeth. The X-rays also will show the supporting bone structure of the teeth. This type of X-ray lets the dentist see a child’s permanent teeth growing below the baby teeth. It also is used to look for abscesses and gum disease.
- Panoramic X-rays (OPG) — These X-rays are used to view all of the teeth on one film. They also show the upper and lower jaws, the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) and the sinuses above the upper teeth. They are often used if a child has hurt his or her face, has orthodontic problems, or is mentally or physically disabled. Panoramic X-rays, unlike other types, do not require a film to be put in the child’s mouth. This is helpful for children who gag easily or who have small mouths. This X-ray has to be exposed for 12 to 18 seconds. The patient must be able to stay still for that whole time.
- Occlusal X-rays — These are used to view most of the upper or lower teeth on one film.
- Orthodontic X-rays (also called cephalometric or lateral skull) — This type of X-ray shows the head from the side. It is used to evaluate growth of the jaws and the relationship of bones in the skull. It helps an orthodontist make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
Dental X-rays are very safe and expose your child to a minimal amount of radiation. When all standard safety precautions are taken, today’s X-ray equipment is able to eliminate unnecessary radiation and allows the dentist to focus the X-ray beam on a specific part of the mouth. High-speed film enables the dentist to reduce the amount of radiation the patient receives. A lead body apron or shield should be used to protect the genital/reproductive area and the thyroid gland.