A Child’s First Visit to the Dentist :: What to Expect

We are happy to partner with Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry to bring you this information. This post is sponsored, but we wouldn't bring you anything we didn't think you'd find beneficial!

Did you know the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends children have their first dental exam by one year or within six months of the appearance of the first tooth? This is different from most pediatricians’ recommendations of age three, but with over 40% of kids having cavities by kindergarten, prevention is key. A good pediatric dentist’s goal is to educate parents on the care of baby teeth while acclimating young kiddos to the routine of oral exams. This sets families up for success and fewer visits long-term.

Our partners at Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry (OMPD) are experts with young children, and they are excited to help us share what that first visit will look like!

Where do I start?

It’s common that babies and toddlers haven’t been added to their families’ dental plans yet, but that’s not a problem at OMPD. They have an in-house policy that covers a standard cleaning and examination for a flat $100 on two visits per year. Sometimes this ends up being less than adding another dependent on a policy, and it means kids can get a good start on solid dental health.

When you set up your child’s appointment, you can pull up the information packet you’ll need online so you don’t have to juggle it in the waiting room. (What parent wants to fill out forms while navigating a mobile baby in a waiting room?)

What will the actual exam look like?

The first exam is mostly for the parent’s education. Dr. Jeff and his staff will talk to you about nutrition, toothpaste, and the best methods for cavity prevention. As for the patient, they’ll count his or her teeth and do a fluoride varnish that’s much different from what adults experience at the dentist. With this, kids can eat and drink immediately, and they just need to skip brushing their teeth that night.

Dr. Jeff and his staff focus on making their patients’ visits as positive as possible, and this includes things such as understanding when children are, well, children. They don’t have hard, fast rules on how kiddos need to sit or be positioned. Instead, they work around what’s comfortable for the child while still getting the job done. 

After the exam, older children receive a token to spend in the office’s treasure tower, and younger babies and toddlers receive squishy toys from the staff. New patients also receive really cool t-shirts from Honeybee Tees. They’re so soft, and kids love them! And guess what? The total time in the office is only about 30-45 minutes!

Things to note about Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry

  • Parents are always encouraged to go into the exam with their children at Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry. This helps put the child – and the parent – at ease.
  • There are no restraints at Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry. Did you know that was a thing? Some offices restrain young children, but Dr. Jeff and his staff prefer to just work around a child’s movement and make the experience a happy, positive one.
  • Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry uses low radiation digital x-rays, gluten-free toothpaste, and more. They work hard to create a safe environment for tiny bodies.
  • Dr. Jeff and his staff avoid words that strike fear in children, such as, “hurt,” “shot,” “needle,” and “pull.” Instead, they reinforce what a great job a child is doing in his or her exam or procedure.
  • Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry is equipped to serve sibling groups of up to six at the same time!

Tips for parents

  • By starting your child early, he or she will learn the dentist’s office is a safe, fun place.
  • Try to avoid scheduling multiple appointments for the same child in one day. This is really hard on a toddler and can lead to meltdowns. If you do need to schedule the dentist and pediatrician in the same day, try to see the dentist first. There won’t be any shots at the dentist, so things are more likely to end in smiles.
  • Schedule the dentist when your child is typically happy. The staff at OMPD is happy to help you avoid nap time in order to reduce stress for you and your child and help make for a good experience.

Rest assured that most kids do very well at the dentist if their parents find a good practice and begin the routine early. For Birmingham families, Dr. Jeff Flannery and his staff at Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry are happy to partner for long-term dental health.

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Jenny-Lyn was born in Decatur, grew up in Ohio, and moved to Birmingham as a teenager. Her favorite things about Birmingham include sweet tea, the use of Sir and Ma’am, and the way people offer friendly smiles while out and about. Oh, and the food. Jenny’s background is sales and marketing, each of which she enjoys putting to use behind the scenes with Birmingham Mom Collective. After getting married, Jenny moved from Birmingham to Minneapolis where she invites anyone interested to visit around August. She’s strongly connected to Birmingham through friends, family, and of course Birmingham Mom Collective. Jenny and her husband Soo-Young have two sons, Michael and Jonathan. She guesses she’s officially a boy mom, and that’s a pretty good thing to be in her book.