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First Visit

We Believe In Comprehensive Pediatric Dental Care, Starting From The First Visit

At Orange County Pediatric Dental Group we believe that comprehensive pediatric dental care is important in building the proper foundation for your child’s future oral health.  We believe that each step of a dental visit is important in building a relationship between our doctors, staff, and our families.  Our goal is to provide a “dental home” for our patients, where all aspects of Pediatric Dentistry are addressed and where our patients and their families (and often extended “families”) feel welcome.  We believe in prevention and “anticipatory guidance” and will evaluate and discuss current or potential problems and ways that these can be managed or avoided.  Many dental issues can be managed simply or avoided altogether if they are addressed at an early age.

According to AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) guidelines, infants should initially visit the pediatric dentist around the time of their first birthday.  First visits can be stressful for parents, especially for parents who have dental phobias themselves.

It is imperative for parents to continually communicate positive messages about dental visits (especially the first one), and to help the child feel as happy as possible about visiting the dentist.

How is a pediatric dental office different?

Pediatric dentists are to undergo extensive training in child psychology as part of their residency programs.  Their dental offices are generally colorful, child-friendly, and have a selection of games, toys, and educational tools.  Pediatric dentists (and all dental staff) aim to make the child feel as welcome as possible during all visits. Our goal is to help the children feel relaxed while at our office.  Orange County Pediatric Dental Group aims to make your child feel welcome and very comfortable during their visits.

How can I prepare for my child’s first dental visit?

There are several things parents can do to make the first visit enjoyable.  Some helpful tips are listed below:

Take another adult along for the visit – Sometimes infants become fussy when having their mouths examined.  Having another adult along to soothe the infant allows the parent to ask questions and to attend to any advice the dentist may have.

Leave other children at home – Other children can distract the parent and cause the infant to fuss.  Leaving other children at home (when possible) makes the first visit less stressful for all concerned. This way, you won't have your other children competing for your attention and you can focus on your child and information provided by the doctor and our staff.

Avoid threatening language – Pediatric dentists and staff are trained to avoid the use of threatening language like “drills,” “needles,” “injections,” and “bleeding.”  It is imperative for parents to use positive language when speaking about dental treatment with their child. Also, never threaten your child with dentistry or a "shot" if they aren't brushing and flossing. We can provide countless examples where this backfires and makes providing necessary dental care much more difficult, often requiring more costly techniques to reduce the child's anxiety.

Provide positive explanations – It is important to explain the purposes of the dental visit in a positive way.  Explaining that the dentist “helps keep teeth healthy” is far better than explaining that the dentist “is checking for tooth decay and might have to drill the tooth if decay is found.”

Explain what will happen – Anxiety can be vastly reduced if the child knows what to expect.  Age-appropriate books about visiting the dentist can be very helpful in making the visit seem fun. Here is a list of parent and dentist-approved books:

  • The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist – by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
  • Show Me Your Smile: A Visit to the Dentist – Part of the “Dora the Explorer” Series.
  • Going to the Dentist – by Anne Civardi.
  • Elmo Visits the Dentist – Part of the “Sesame Street” Series.

Apps - While electronics can be helpful for some things, we have found that many of the apps available actually can create a fearful view of the dentist in younger children.  For older children and adults, the dental apps can be a fun way to pass the time, but they often portray dental care as a painful experience.  This makes them counterproductive if you are trying to prepare your child for dental care.  If your child will need dental treatment, please ask the doctor how to approach the topic with your child. 


First visit for infants

We support the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines that recommend that children have their first dental visit by their first birthday!  As Pediatric Dentists, we are trained to evaluate infants.  In fact, Dr. Renzi and Dr. House both have been called to local hospitals to the Neonatal ICU to evaluate newborns that have been born with teeth.  By seeing your child by his or her first birthday, we can evaluate if tooth eruption is normal and we can address any potential diet and hygiene issues that could lead to tooth decay.

The bacteria that cause cavities are passed from one person to another early on in life, just like the flu or the common cold!  This is another reason that we like to see patients so early.  We want to educate families and break the cycle so that babies are less likely to get infected by decay causing bacteria.The infant oral exam is done as a “knee-to-knee” exam, rather than having your baby sit in a dental chair.  This way, your baby is stabilized on your knee and the doctor’s knees and your baby can see you.  It is comfortable for your baby and your baby is quite secure.  The doctor can also do a more thorough exam compared with having your baby sitting upright on your lap.  Many babies fuss during the exam, but they recover quickly afterwards.  After a few dental visits, most babies adjust to dental visits. 

The advantage of early dental examinations is that in the event of dental trauma when your baby is a toddler, your little one will already be used to the dental setting and won’t have to go to an unfamiliar place when he or she is in pain.The actual examination goes quickly.  Most of the infant dental visit is spent discussing oral hygiene (how to keep the teeth clean), diet, potential concerns with eruption/tooth position, habits (finger and pacifiers), common dental problems in the upcoming age category and ways to minimize these problems, etc. 

Starting good oral health habits in infancy can have a major positive impact in your child’s lifelong oral health! 


First visit for older children

Your child’s first dental visit is tailored to his or her age and behavior.  We want to make dental visits something that children enjoy.  Many parents tell us “I don’t understand it, but my kids look forward to coming here!”  Some toddlers will tolerate an examination, cleaning, and x-rays during their first dental visit, while other older children are very anxious and will only allow an examination during the first dental visit in our office.  Our doctors and staff will work with our patients in a kind, gentle manner.  We find that regular dental visits help anxious patients and patients with special needs adjust to dental visits better.

As part of a first dental visit, as well as routine check-ups, our doctors are looking at the teeth in the mouth, existing dental work, cavities, tooth position, oral hygiene (plaque and tartar), occlusion (how the teeth come together), oral habits (such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, bruxism, etc.), gum and other soft tissues of the head and neck, and many other aspects related to Pediatric Dentistry.  Dr. Renzi and Dr. House keep the dental examination fun and lighthearted, helping to minimize stress for the children.  Our doctors will discuss their findings with you and make any treatment recommendations.  We will give you tips on how to make brushing and flossing easier.  We believe in working with families and caregivers to develop realistic oral hygiene programs to use at home for our patients.  We strongly believe in preventing cavities and conservative treatment, when possible.  Our doctors will also discuss the risks, causes, and prevention of common dental conditions, as well as evaluating any medications and medical conditions that your child may have that could impact his or her oral health.


If you have questions or concerns about your child’s first dental visit, please contact our office.