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Dental Home

Starting at Age 1

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend establishing a "Dental Home" for your child by their first birthday.

The Dental Home is intended to provide a place for dental care other than the Emergency Room.

Pleasant First Visit

Children's first visit to their dental home should be pleasant and uneventful, solely to introduce the child and parents to the dental office. Emphasis is usually placed upon a developmental assessment of the child’s oral health because caries (tooth decay) and other developmental disturbances can be managed early. Fluoride varnish may be applied to counteract beginning decay on newly erupted teeth.

Five Things to Expect for Baby's First Dental Visit

Step 1

Clinical Examination
by Age 12 Months

  • Complete medical history
  • Knee-to-knee exam with guardian
  • Note clinical dental caries
  • Soft tissue irregularities
  • White-spot lesions, tongue anatomy
  • Enamel decalification, hypoplasia
  • Dietary staining

Step 2

Caries Risk Assessment


  • Bottle or breast fed at night on demand
  • Non-water in bedtime bottle
  • Decalcification/caries present
  • No oral home care
  • Sugary foods, snacks

Step 3

Diet Counseling for Infants

  • No juice or milk in bed
  • Sippy cups can encourage decay
  • Avoid sugary drinks and sodas
  • Encourage variety and a balanced diet
  • Low-sugar snacks
  • Fluorides – topical and systemic

Step 4

Oral Home Care for Infants

  • Brush or massage teeth and gums 2x daily
  • Use a small, soft toothbrush
  • Pea-sized amount of toothpaste, with Fluoride
  • Guidance on thumb sucking, pacifier
  • Response for home accidents, trauma

Step 5

Future Visit

  • Based on Risk Assessment
  • At age one year
  • Two years if delayed in development

Do I stay with my child during the visit?

A child’s first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable and positive. Inform your child of the visit and tell them that the dentist and their staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. Children are not born with a natural fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown; for this reason we invite you to accompany your child during the initial examination. Usually, the first visit takes forty-five minutes to an hour. During this appointment Dr. West will be getting to know you and your child, he will review your child’s medical history, teach oral hygiene techniques and complete their comprehensive dental examination to check the health of your child’s teeth and upper and lower jaw relationship; he may even do a dental cleaning. This is a time for you to ask questions about proper care for your child’s teeth and what you might expect as your child develops.

We encourage you to prepare your child for the first visit by presenting it in a positive manner. Children can recognize others’ apprehension; we ask that you or older children do not use negative comments or fearful statements concerning an upcoming dental appointment. It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as "needle", "shot", "pull", "drill" or "hurt" and “gag”. The less your child has to think about the appointment, the better the visit. Remember Dr. West is specially trained and has years of experience handling patients’ fear and anxiety, we make a special effort to use pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe each treatment.

At the conclusion of the appointment Dr. West will have time to explain his findings and recommendations concerning any future care your child may need.

During future appointments, especially after the age of 3, we suggest you allow your child to accompany our staff through the dental experience while you relax in the reception area. Our purpose is to gain your child's confidence and overcome apprehension, and we can usually establish a closer relationship with your child when you are not present. However, you are more than welcome to accompany your child to the treatment room, but once in the dental chair we ask that you return to the reception area while the dental visit is taking place. For the safety and privacy of all patients, other children who are not being treated should remain in the reception area with a supervising adult. At the conclusion of the appointment Dr. West will have time to explain his findings and recommendations concerning any future care your child may need.

Appointments for Dental Treatment

If it determined that your child needs dental treatment an appointment will be arranged taking several concerns into consideration. Young children are better dental patients when they are scheduled early in the day before they become tired. For this reason young children are scheduled in the morning, reserving the later afternoon and afterschool appointments for middle school and high school students.

Dr. West does not perform any procedure requiring anesthesia for school age children after 2:30 pm. Since anesthesia needs approximately 1-1 ½ hours to “wear off” there will be several hours for that to occur before eating dinner thus avoiding the chance of biting a numb lip, cheek or tongue.

During all restorative procedures we ask that the parent remain in the reception area so that Dr. West can communicate directly with your child, rather than trying to communicate to your child through the parent.