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Southern Smiles Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry Brand Element
Southern Smiles Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry Brand Element

First Visit & What To Expect

First Visit & What To Expect

When Should My Child First Visit The Dentist?

If your infant has any oral or dental condition that bothers you or appears to be out of the ordinary, then your child should be seen regardless of age. In unique situations, we have seen children as early as their first week of life. This includes any problems with trauma to the teeth or mouth.


The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children receive an oral health risk assessment by six months of age and that they establish a dental home by 12 months of age. The reason for these recommendations is that some infants will develop cavities within months of the time that teeth erupt into the mouth. Often these early cavities are caused by feeding and oral hygiene habits. These early cavities may be avoided if the parents are counseled in these two areas
as the first teeth are erupting. We recommend that you come with your infant shortly after his/her first teeth have erupted.

We will help you with home oral hygiene, diet, pacifier or finger habits, fluorides, toothpaste, and injury prevention. Both Mom and Dad are welcome at these appointments. With professional guidance and demonstration, effective prevention can be stress-free, easy, and fun for the whole family. Families who embrace early parental involvement in home dental care for their children can, very predictably, expect a life with few, if any, dental problems.

If you have older children who are already patients in the practice, then you already have a "dental home. " Additionally, you have been introduced to the home preventive dental care practices that we recommend. Use the same techniques that you have already seen and heard for your newest edition. If you are having any problems or concerns, you are welcome to bring your infant along with your older children so that we can answer your questions.

If you have older children in the practice, are comfortable with your home preventive dental care routine, and don't have any questions or concerns about the oral/dental health of your infant, we recommend that your child come for a first dental visit at age three.

What Should I Tell My Child
Before The First Visit?

When you talk with your child about his or her first dental visit, we recommend that you emphasize both honesty and a positive attitude. Please do not talk to your child about any dental anxieties that you may have. "The dentist will be very kind and gentle when he counts your teeth" and "Mommy will be with you all the time" are good places to start.

Answer all the questions that your child asks to the best of your ability without making a "big deal" out of the experience. We have found that parents are very good at predicting their child's behavior for his or her first dental visit. Some children will feel more at ease if they know, in advance, every detail about the upcoming experience. Others do better if they know nothing at all. Remember, every child is an individual. Prepare your child so that he or she has the best chance for a good experience. We will use our training and experience along with the information that you give us to do the same.

Southern Smiles Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry Brand Element
Southern Smiles Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry Brand Element

What Will Happen At
The First Dental Visit?

At the first visit, it is very important for our team and doctors to have a good understanding of your child’s overall medical health history. Completing our new patient health history registration form in advance is very helpful. Together we will review your child's health history and discuss any concerns you may have about your child's teeth and oral health.

SPECIAL NEEDS: In the event your child has special needs, we encourage you to discuss in advance the best way for us to schedule your child in order to provide a tailored experience geared toward success!

At the first visit with us, your child will have a doctor's exam and be seen by our hygiene team for an age-appropriate dental cleaning, topical fluoride treatment when appropriate, health and wellness education, and possibly X-rays / radiographs. We will, of course, always find ways to make it fun! Please note X-rays / radiographs will only be made if they are needed to make an accurate and complete diagnosis of your child's dental health, and we will ask for your permission first. We will also ask your permission for a fluoride treatment application. For more information on our safety standards and X-ray policies, CLICK HERE. For more information on our fluoride protocols, CLICK HERE.

The doctor will complete the following:

  • Dental exam of all of the teeth, checking carefully for any tooth-related problems, infections, or tooth decay.

  • Exam of all soft tissues and muscles inside the mouth.

  • A “head and neck exam” where the doctor checks your child’s muscles of the head and neck, as well as lymph nodes (an important screening exam for overall health as well as rare precancerous growths).

  • Evaluate the growing structure and functional relationships of the upper and lower jaws.

  • A pre-orthodontic evaluation of the developing bite pattern and crowding of the teeth.

  • Evaluate any X-rays / radiographs of the teeth that are obtained.

  • Discuss any recommended treatment and address any concerns you may have.

  • Provide age-appropriate education for parents to help guide their children.

  • Have fun!

To learn more about our Infant, Child & Teen Dental Exams, CLICK HERE.

The hygiene & dental assisting team will work together to complete the following:

  • Complete an age-appropriate dental cleaning.

  • Teach brushing and flossing techniques to help improve care of the teeth and gums.

  • Make X-ray/radiographs when indicated.

  • Assist the doctor with the exam.

  • Help provide education and guidance.

  • Have fun!



To learn more about our protocols for dental cleanings, CLICK HERE.

Follow up when the dental visit is complete:

At the end of most dental visits, we help you to schedule the next regular six-month check-up and cleaning. For children who may have dental treatment needs, for example, if tooth decay has been found, and a filling (restoration) is necessary, we will discuss the options, and cost and help schedule the appointment. We will also discuss how you can help prepare your child for that next visit.

Oral Health
In Children

The development and the health of a child’s teeth and mouth are as important as any other growing part of the human body. Unfortunately, dental decay (the disease properly known as caries) is still the most common chronic childhood disease. At this point it is well established that the dental and oral health of a growing child has a tremendous impact on the future health of the person for the rest of their life. The strong connection between the overall health of the body (systemic health) and our oral health is now well established. Children and adults with healthy mouths and good regular hygiene have far fewer health problems. We now know there are direct links between poor oral health and many diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, heart problems, some autoimmune system disorders, and cancer. Childhood dental decay is the most common chronic disease in childhood, yet cavities are preventable. Children who have poor oral health typically miss more school and have lower academic achievement than children with healthy mouths. Left untreated, dental decay and cavities can cause pain, infections, and can lead to problems with eating, speech, and even learning. Before your infant or toddler is able to take care of their own gums and teeth, you can protect and maintain your child’s teeth by following the P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom:

Protect tiny teeth.
Ensure to wipe your baby’s gums after each meal.
Avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle.
Remember to brush your child’s teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.
Limit drinks and food with added sugars for children.

Encourage your child to eat healthy foods.

*For children younger than 2 years, consult with us about when to start using fluoride toothpaste and how much to use.

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Oral Health In Children

Common myths about baby teeth:

Myth #1

“Baby teeth don’t really need to be cared for.” The truth is, decay can happen as soon as the first baby teeth appear. So, as soon as the first baby teeth appear, it's time to start brushing…twice daily—in the morning and before bed.

Myth #2

“I can wait to take my child to the dentist until they are older.” You should be visiting the dentist as soon as your child’s first teeth erupt. Follow the “First Visit by First Birthday” recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Myth #3

“They are just baby teeth, if they get cavities they will fall out later anyway.” We hear this too often. One of the most accurate predictors of whether or not children will have dental decay in permanent teeth is whether or not they had active decay in the baby (primary) teeth and whether or not the problem was addressed. The bacteria that cause tooth decay, if left alone to thrive, will spread from one tooth to another, not unlike how the flu spreads from one family member to another.

Myth #4

“It’s okay to let my child sleep with their bottle.” Parents who allow their children to go to sleep with a bottle filled with milk or juice, please understand that this is a particularly harmful thing to do, as it almost always results in early cavity formation. It can also make your baby dependent on having a bottle to sleep. Children who tote around no spill “sip” cups with sugary drinks and juices throughout the day are equally harmful.

Good Oral Health In Children Is Essential!

Children who have good oral health generally have better overall body health, more self-confidence, and better social and psychological health.

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Child Nutrition
& Wellness

It is important for children to establish healthy eating habits. This is an important part of growing up because it impacts the development of the entire body. The developing brain, muscles, bones, nervous system, and immune system are impacted tremendously by the nutrition a child receives through childhood.

It is a good idea to teach children that they need healthy foods and drinks to grow into the best
versions of themselves and to stay strong. In addition to good eating habits, there are many ways to take care of the body, including exercise, regular social interaction with peers, and getting enough sleep. The earlier we introduce children to a variety of healthy foods, the better.

Child Nutrition & Wellness

Begin by teaching children that our bodies need certain things to be in our food in order for our bodies to grow up healthy and strong, like vitamins and minerals. We also need a balance of different types of food. We have many parts to our bodies, and the different parts all need many of the same things; however, our body parts benefit individually from different types of food. For example, the brain benefits from healthy fats in the diet, like those that come from fish. Whereas our hearts don’t benefit in the same way from fat in our diet. Teach your child that not all foods are created equal. Some foods are better than others, and some foods are less healthy and should be eaten less often.

How should we teach children about nutrition & healthy eating habits?

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What Foods Should Children Eat
For A Healthy Body?

Most people are familiar with the five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and
dairy. A well-balanced plate of food should have half of the plate filled with vegetables and some fruit, that the other half with grains and proteins.

Examples of healthy vegetables include carrots, broccoli, green beans, peas, and potatoes. A good vegetable garden is like a rainbow, with many different colored vegetables. When our diet includes vegetables from across the entire rainbow, our bodies will respond in health-positive ways.

Examples of good fruits include blueberries, blackberries, apples, bananas, avocados, and kiwis.
There are certainly many more examples of healthy vegetables and fruits.

Grains include foods such as pasta, cereal, whole wheat, quinoa, bread, oatmeal, barley, and rice to name a few. We have to be more careful about which grains we eat and not eat too much.

Rounding out our dinner plate is the protein group, which includes meats (such as chicken, beef, pork, & fish), eggs, legumes (beans, lentils, tofu), and dairy (yogurt, milk, cheese) and tofu.

Teaching children about different ways to prepare food is also important. They need to understand that how we prepare our food is just as important as what we eat—for example, roasted red potatoes with a little bit of butter, rosemary, salt, and garlic = yummy and healthy. A regular bag of potato chips, although an occasional delicious treat, is not at all the same. One of the best ways to get children involved in adopting healthy eating behaviors is to get them involved in the kitchen. Teaching children how to cook is an incredibly valuable life skill.

Here are some fun books to inspire your youngster to get into the kitchen with you to learn how to cook healthy recipes:

  • The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes that You'll Love to Cook and Eat -Authors America’s Test Kitchen Kids

  • The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes That Are Simple to Make - Author Erin Gleeson

  • My Very First Cookbook: Joyful Recipes to Make Together! A Cookbook for Kids and Families with Fun and Easy Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, and More Author Danielle Kartes

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How we cook our food is just as important as what we eat!

What about soda and carbonated beverages?

The truth is that soda is not a healthy drink option. In fact, it is one of the single biggest contributing factors to childhood obesity, and diabetes and is destructive to many parts of the body. The fact that it has become such a normal part of life that many children consume it multiple times daily is quite sad. It seems that our society often looks the other way when it comes to soda consumption in both children and adults. It is the classic example of something that can be very enjoyable, should be rarely consumed, and yet has become an everyday part of life for so many. 


Soda contains a great deal of sugar and is very acidic. In regular soda drinkers, the negative impact on dental health and tooth enamel is immediate, significant, and often permanent.

The ultimate health beverage is undoubtedly water! There really is no substitute and helping children to adopt a healthy appetite for drinking water regularly throughout the day is also one of the best health habits we can teach our children

For parents who wish to read a more in-depth resource on the following subjects:

FAQ & Patient Education
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