“Six months old.”
“After the first tooth pops out.”
“Six months after the first tooth pops out.”
“Near the one-year birthday.”
“When they are old enough to brush their teeth or when you notice a problem, whichever comes first.”
With my first daughter, I asked a whole lot of different people for advice about when to schedule that first dental visit and everyone had a different suggestion. Ultimately, we went with our pediatrician’s recommendation and scheduled a visit near her first birthday. Since she had only four teeth, it was a pretty easy and stress-free visit. I say stress-free because for me the anticipation of the visit was very stressful. She, of course, was blissfully clueless. I, like many adults, have big issues with dentists. These mostly stem from a bad dental experience early in my youth that was related to bad genetics (impacted 12-year molars) and the painful oral surgeries that resulted. Plus, since I am older than Moses and grew up in a small town, there were no pediatric dentists and the dentist our family went to had a less than a soothing bedside manner. We went, had a pleasant enough experience and received the great news that she had not inherited my terrible teeth.
Why A Pediatric Dentist?[sws_pullquote_left]Since I am older than Moses and grew up in a small town, there were no pediatric dentists and the dentist our family went to had a less than a soothing bedside manner. [/sws_pullquote_left]Four years and two states later and it was time for me to schedule a first dentist visit for my new baby. I knew I wanted a children’s dentist because pediatric dentists know how to examine and treat children in ways that make them comfortable. In addition, pediatric dentists use specially designed equipment in offices that are arranged and decorated with children in mind. Basically, I knew my baby would be more comfortable with a dentist who specializes in children. Huntsville, unlike my small town 30 years ago, is lucky to have several pediatric dental practices in town so we had our pick of where to go. Many of our friends recommended Alabama Pediatric Dental Associates. I had also met a few of the dentists at a family festival the year previous and they seemed fun and TOTALLY different than my childhood dentist. I called and scheduled our appointment. APDA has offices in Huntsville, Madison, and Decatur which makes finding a location close to you very convenient. We went to the Madison location but I would guess all three are similar.
What To Expect
The first thing I noticed was the big indoor play area next to the waiting room. My little one was a bit small to really enjoy it but I’m guessing it’s a big hit with the 2-8 year old crowd and it certainly beats trying to keep them seated while waiting for your appointment. Once we checked in we didn’t wait long before we made our way back to the hygienist’s chair. On our way back we saw what looked like a video arcade which I must assume is to entertain the older children and teen clients and we passed the “No Cavity Club” wall of fame for kids with no cavity check-ups.
We started the visit with the baby on my lap while the hygienist looked at her teeth and asked us a few questions and then gave me a turn to ask my questions. Since we’d had issues with a couple of bloody-mouth-related spills in the past year I asked about that and got some great advice about how to get a squirmy 15-month-old to submit to teeth brushing.
Then it was time for the dentist to take a look, no cleaning takes place this young as the primary goal is just to establish there aren’t any current or potentially future problems. At this point we’d been there a while and my little one seemed fairly comfortable. They laid her down briefly on the chair and were easily able to look at her teeth and check eruptions and the condition of the teeth. The whole affair took less than 30 minutes and was easy-breezy. We went home with some great advice, and I feel great about checking off another “to-do” off my Mommy List.
Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.