253 Low Street, Suite 5 Newburyport, MA 01950 978-462-5050
Frequently Asked Questions
When should my child see the dentist for the first time?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that every child see a dentist by age 1 to establish a “dental home”—a place for a child to receive preventive services and dental treatment as needed. While we are glad to see patients at any age, we recognize that not all children will have teeth by age 1 and children may not have a full complement of teeth until age 3, which is why we usually recommend that children are seen for their first dental visit by no older than age 3, unless there is a concern before that age.
What happens at the first dental visit?
At the first visit, children will be introduced to our staff and are welcome to tour and become familiar with our office. Each patient will have an examination of their face, cheeks, and jaws (extraoral exam) and an examination inside the mouth of their gums, cheeks, tongue, and teeth (intraoral exam). Your child will have their teeth cleaned, have a fluoride treatment, and will be instructed in proper oral hygiene. Depending on your child’s age and treatment needs, the dentist may suggest that x-rays be taken to check for cavities between teeth or to check for development of your child’s teeth and jaws. At the end of the appointment, Dr. Quinn or Dr. Miller will discuss any treatment that is needed, review a preventive plan for your child, and address any questions or concerns you may have about your child’s teeth.
Why do dentists recommend taking x-rays?
There are two reasons for taking x-rays—checking for cavities or other problems with teeth and checking development of the mouth, including the teeth and jaws. Once teeth start touching together, there are parts of the tooth that cannot be seen by the naked eye. For this reason, we will recommend taking “cavity finding pictures” (bitewing x-rays) to check for cavities in between teeth. Depending on your child’s history of cavities, we recommend taking these cavity finding x-rays every 1-3 years. To ensure the safety of our patients, we take as many precautions as we can, including using digital x-rays, which reduces the amount of radiation by one-half compared to film x-rays, and using lead aprons with thyroid collars to reduce the amount of radiation received by your child to an almost insignificant amount.
Why is fluoride important for my child’s teeth?
Fluoride is a mineral that we call “vitamins” for teeth. Most dentists recommend fluoride to help make teeth stronger and prevent cavities. There are many ways for your child to receive adequate fluoride, including community drinking water (tap water), fluoride toothpaste, fluoride rinses (such as ACT), and fluoride supplements. The amount of fluoride exposure and best routes of receiving an adequate amount of fluoride depends on multiple factors for each child and is something that should be discussed with a dentist on an individual basis.
How do I prepare my child if he/she needs fillings?
We recommend that parents try NOT to prepare children for dental visits ahead of time. By drawing special attention to the appointment, children expect that it will be an unpleasant experience, which we try hard to avoid! There are certain words our staff avoids, and special vocabulary we use to describe objects in our office that some children may consider scary. We recommend that if a child has any questions about an upcoming appointment, parents ask them to remember the question and ask Dr. Quinn or Dr. Miller when they come in for their appointment.