According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, early childhood caries and the associated serious health consequences are the most prevalent infectious disease among children in the U.S. However, children who are seen as soon as a first tooth erupts, or by age one, have significantly less occurrence of dental disease throughout childhood than children who are seen later in life.
As incidence of very early childhood dental disease rises, there is a shortage of dentists who are willing to see children under age three. Although treating very young children is different from treating older children, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. There are many strategies you can use to help create a child-friendly practice and make the experience a pleasant one for you, your young patients, and their families.
Consider opening your practice to young children and put them on the path to healthy smiles for a lifetime!
Current clinical guidelines recommend that a child’s first dental visit occur within six months of eruption of the first tooth and no later than 12 months of age.
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It’s important that children feel welcome as soon as they enter your office. There’s no need to make major renovations or purchase special equipment since adding a few child-friendly elements to your existing office is all you need. Fairly simple and inexpensive things will entertain children and help make them feel comfortable.
Here are a few child-friendly elements to consider:
Not all of these things are necessary for your practice to become child-friendly, but choosing a few of them will go a long way toward making even the youngest patient feel right at home.
All of the young children that you see will have a parent or other family member with them during the visit. While you will be examining the child, most of your communication regarding prevention, treatment, and home care will be with the parent.
Consider these family-friendly strategies:
Developed with Rhode Island dental care providers, Good Dental Health: A Partnership Between You & Me covers the basics of good oral health. Each page is double sided and designed as a hands-on teaching tool:
The tool also includes an interactive ‘Oral Health Goals for Your Family’ chart, which will help you establish self-management goals for your patients to work on while at home.
If you would like to order free copies of the Good Dental Health: A Partnership Between You & Me, please use this Order Form. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact TeethFirst! at info@TeethFirstRI.org or (401) 351-9400.