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Is 39 Too Old to Visit a Pediatric Dentist?

Is 39 Too Old to Visit a Pediatric Dentist?

“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.”

A play area to keep the little ones happy.
A play area to keep the little ones happy.

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.

Only the best brushers make it on this wall.
Only the best brushers make it on this wall.

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.


View Comments (5)
  • It is soo interesting you do this segment cause I was just saying I had not taken my son to a dentist here and he just turned 3 : ( I will have to check them out!

  • I consulted a couple dentists in town two years ago and was told they usually don’t see kids for the first time until after age 3, unless parents have concerns earlier than that. It’s definitely time for my oldest to go, though, just to get used to it.

  • I took mine at 3 for the first time and it went well. We went to the Huntsville APDA office and they were wonderful. We didn’t have any concerns, so I waited until 3 so that I could explain the dentist better to her. She also learned a little about the dentist in her preschool class, so that helped, too.

  • We love Al. Ped. Dental Assoc.! With that play area, my kids actually look forward to going to the dentist! And they are very efficient, no long waits for squirmy kids.

  • I could relate to your experience early in your life. My situation was different in that it was not as extensive (12 impacted molars – ouch), but the fear factor is still with me today. It is also interesting to note how dentistry has evolved. You have specialists that deal with children. They know what to say and when, provide proper environment (toys,…) and use great props. The only other part I would add is that the parents should prepare the child in advance for the first visit to the dentist.

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