Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that all children see a dentist by the time their first tooth erupts, or they turn 1 year old (whichever comes first.)

As a pediatric dentist, Dr. Monamie Ghatak often sees local children who are too young to be seen by family dentists in Dunn Loring. Most general practices near you, which adults go to, don’t schedule appointments for children under 3 or 4 years of age. At this point, your child will have gone 2-3 years without the early screening recommended by pediatric experts. In the meantime, serious dental or orofacial concerns can develop, such as:

  • Open bites
  • Cross bites
  • Tongue thrusts
  • Tooth decay 
  • Abscessed teeth
  • Impacted teeth
  • Speech impediments
  • Dental emergencies

Your child can continue seeing the pediatric dentist well into their teens. Most older kids do not move to a general practice until they go off to college, need a wisdom tooth extraction, or require treatments on their adult teeth.

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Prevention Based Pediatric Dentistry

Merrifield Pediatric Dentistry wants to help all children enjoy a healthy smile for life. The best way to do that is through routine preventative care. If our pedodontist identifies a concern, it can be intercepted as early as possible (when treatment is more comfortable and affordable to complete.) In some cases, we can completely avoid the need for more extensive treatments in the future.

Although the simple checkups for kids seem straightforward and efficient, they provide Dr. Ghatak with a chance to peer into your child’s future smile. As we monitor their oral development and physical growth, many potential issues, that can cause a future emergency, can be ruled out via preventative techniques. Even early tooth demineralization can be reversed before it evolves into a cavity!

“What if I Waited Too Long?”

Although we always encourage families to bring their kids to the dentist before their first birthday, there will be instances where some children don’t get here until much later. That’s ok. We’ll pick up where you’re at, to help ensure any existing issues can be resolved.

Sometimes children have special needs or are in foster care, making it difficult to get them to a dentist until other concerns are addressed. Just keep in mind that the oral-systemic connection is a strong one. If there are existing infections inside of a child’s mouth, it can lead to other health issues that are more difficult to manage. An abscessed tooth could even result in hospitalization.

What’s Happening at the First Appointment

Your child’s first trip to the dentist is typically more of an early screening and parent information session. We’ll discuss any underlying medical issues, family traits, or unique concerns with your child’s teeth. From there, Dr. Ghatak and our team will walk caregivers through oral care for kids, nutritional choices, common dental diseases to be aware of, and what to look for in your child’s natural tooth development.

As your child gets older, these regular checkups will evolve into routine cleanings, intermittent radiographs, and oral hygiene instruction to your child at an age-appropriate level. We use a tell-show-do method to empower kids to care for their teeth from an early age.

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Call Today!

Schedule your child’s visit with our pediatric dentist before his or her first birthday.

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