"Dental Home"

"Dental Home"
Posted on 08/09/2016

You may or may not have heard the term prior to reading this month's blog. Essentially, it is the equivalent in dentistry of a primary care physician's office. The doctor that you see regularly to maintain health, diagnose/treat injury or disease, and make appropriate referrals when indicated.

Most children see a pediatrician for regular wellness checkups. The pediatrician may even do oral examinations and apply topical fluoride to their teeth. However, a dentist specializing in pediatrics would be the best person to evaluate the oral cavity and identify any areas of concern.

Establishing a Dental Home

According to The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the first dental visit should take place either six months after the eruption of the first baby tooth or by one year of age. Seem a little unnecessary to have your baby seen by a dentist? Consider the points listed below.

  • Once a child has even a single tooth, oral hygiene measures and nutritional habits should be evaluated so that necessary modifications may be implemented to prevent dental decay.
  • The first visit consists of introductions/discussion and a clinical examination. This exam provides important baseline information about the patient.
  • Starting young allows the dental team to form a relationship with the patient that can make dental visits less stressful throughout their lifetime.
  • Increased predictability of growth and development in an established pediatric patient can be used to guide the overall health, functionality, and esthetics of a patient's smile.
  • Regular visits provide opportunities to make necessary treatment less invasive through early detection of problematic findings.

Why Start With A Pediatric Specialist?

As the title implies, they specialize in caring for pediatric patients. The facility, equipment, and chairside manner cater to children and adolescents at age appropriate levels. Likewise, expectations of typical child behaviors, reasoning, and fears are more realistic.

The value of having a doctor you feel comfortable with is immeasurable. This is especially true for child patients as they tend to need more persuasion and assurance. When the needs of a patient finally do "outgrow" a pediatric dental office, a referral can be made to a general dentist.

Consistency Is Key

Throughout the medical field, keeping regular preventive appointments significantly impacts overall health for the better. "Within normal limits" is a relative term and is variable for each individual. Recurring visits to medical professionals who are familiar with what is normal for you provides greater maintenance of health, function, and esthetics.