What is a Knee-To-Knee Pediatric Dental Exam?
The American Association of Pediatric Dentists recommends taking your child to the dentist by their first birthday, or within six months of their first tooth erupting. At their first visit, you may see the dentist perform a knee-to-knee exam, also called a lap-exam, for your little one. This is a common practice in a pediatric dental office since 1-2 year olds typically can’t sit up in the reclining dental chair yet, and we want the parents or guardians to be involved in the especially important first visit.
What Can I Expect During a Knee-to-Knee Dental Examination?
The knee-to-knee exam doesn’t typically last more than 15 minutes. You can expect the doctor to do a visual examination of the mouth, teeth, and gums to make sure your child’s baby teeth are developing properly and check for signs of tooth decay. At your child’s first pediatric dental checkup, you’ll accompany your little one to the dental chair.
Here’s how we conduct a knee-to-knee exam:
- You (parent) will sit in the dental chair with your child sitting in your lap facing you while the dentist pulls up a chair.
- The dentist and the parent will sit knee to knee, and you’ll lean the child backwards into their lap.
- The dentist will then conduct the knee-to-knee exam by inspecting their mouth.
They’ll then perform a dental cleaning and your pediatric dentist will ask you a few questions about your child’s oral health habits at home. We’ll also provide any guidance or suggestions, and answer any questions you may have.
How To Prepare For Your Baby’s First Dental Visit and Knee-to-Knee Exam
Before your visit, prepare yourself and don’t project your own fears or anxieties. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to treat infants through adolescents with a kind and caring demeanor. They understand the unique challenges and complexities in treating children, and do everything they can to ensure that your child’s visit is stress-free.
You can also prepare your little one for a great first visit by getting them accustomed to cleaning their teeth and gums. You don’t even need a toothbrush to start. A wet, clean washcloth can be used to clean the mouth and gums, especially after feedings and before bedtime. As teeth begin to erupt, you can use a disposable finger toothbrush or a baby toothbrush to gently clean the teeth without toothpaste. By doing this frequently with your child, the first dental exam will be less of a new experience for them.
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