Ask a group of adults to list their least-favorite tasks and it's likely a few will say going to the dentist.
Luckily, many dental practices work hard to make their offices inviting and fun for young patients so they might not have that same feeling of dread as they get older.
Dr. Priya Grewel, regional dental director for Kool Smiles of Hagerstown, said her office has "lots of colors, energy, a play area. It's like a Chuck E. Cheese's."
Staff members talk to their young clients in terms they understand. Grewel said the office does such a good job of making kids feel at ease that parents often ask if Kool Smiles takes adult patients, as well.
Staff members also avoid the use of words that might cause fear, including "needle, hurt, shot, X-ray," she said.
Grewel suggested that parents call Kool Smiles of Hagerstown to arrange a tour prior to their children's first visit.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth erupts, usually between 6 and 12 months of age.
Dr. Everett Ecklund, who is known to his patients as "Dr. Rhett," said his practice, Potomac Dental Centre in Hagerstown, starts to see most of its young patients around the age of 2.
"If they come in young, we play little games, let them hold the mirror, turn the lights on and off," he said.
Ecklund recommended that parents allow infants to suck on a toothbrush at least once a day as soon as they get their first tooth so they will get used to the process. He also suggested that parents start giving their children toothpaste containing fluoride at the age of 2.
Fluoride also is administered at dental visits. In the past, tablets often were distributed at home and school, but are no longer being recommended, Ecklund said. Instead, fluoride is applied topically at dentists' offices.
"It's a sticky, gooey substance that slowly releases fluoride for about six months," he said.
The goal of early dental pediatrics is to prevent ongoing dental problems.
"The cavity that a child gets at age 8 can end up costing thousands of dollars as the tooth breaks down and causes other problems," Ecklund said.
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Kool Smiles of Hagerstown
1580 Wesel Blvd., Hagerstown