Whether you’re 1 or 100, your oral health is vitally important to your overall health and wellbeing. Your mouth is an essential gatekeeper to the rest of your body, with a direct connection to your respiratory system and digestive system. Though many people may not realize, poor dental hygiene can have severely negative health implications, including an increased risk of heart disease, respiratory diseases, diabetes, etc. Given that tooth decay remains the #1 chronic childhood disease, National Children’s Dental Health Month provides a great opportunity to learn about and promote healthy oral hygiene habits among children.
It is important to develop excellent oral hygiene habits from a young age, one of these being regular visits to the dentist! However, we understand that a child’s first few visits to the
dentist can be a nerve-wracking experience for both children and their parents/guardians. In order to alleviate any stress or anxiety surrounding your child’s first visit to our office, we sat down with our very own Dr. Mai (Xiong) to learn about her background, experience, and passion for working with children and to get her advice about establishing regular dental visits!
(Q) What is your background/experience with pediatric dentistry? What is your dental philosophy when it comes to working with children?
(A) I enjoy working with children of all ages. Before becoming a dentist, I worked as a pediatric dental assistant for many years. In addition, my general practice residency I completed after dental school had a big emphasis on pediatric dentistry as well. These experiences have been invaluable and given me a lot of insight on treating children.
I will always try to complete treatment here if we are able to. Creating a positive experience and safely completing treatment are most important. If there is extensive treatment that needs to be done or there is limited patient cooperation, we will make the appropriate referral to pediatric dentists who specialize in treating children in order to make it a good experience.
(Q) Why do you enjoy working with children? What aspects of pediatric dentistry appeal to you?
(A) Children are so impressionable at a young age. I believe in trying to create a positive experience for them so that they don’t develop a fear of coming to the dentist. With carefully worded and detailed explanations, I’ve come to find that most children do very well with treatment. Prevention of disease is important in all phases of life. Parent and patient education starting a young age will prevent disease and develop good habits.
(Q) What will my child’s first appointment be like?
(A) The first appointment will be scheduled with our wonderful hygienists. They will review your child’s medical history and go over any concerns you may have. They will complete an examination of your child’s teeth and soft tissues, introduce our tools and then clean your child’s teeth. The dentist will then come in and complete the same examination and discuss any treatment that is needed.
(Q) When should I schedule my child’s first appointment?
(A) The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry along with the American Dental Association do recommend that children be seen by age 1. Visits at this young age will be brief. Being at the dentist for the very first time can feel very invasive to a young child. Our very young patients may only be able to get introductions, an oral examination, and fluoride. Our goal is to be able to establish trust and show them that we are not here to hurt them. Parents will find that each appointment will get easier as children grow and mature.