First Visit

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends the first visit 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth or by the first birthday, whichever comes first. First visits can be stressful for parents, especially for parents who have dental phobias themselves.  

For your child’s first dental visit, please contact our office at 703-378-2000.

About Dental Visits

It is imperative for parents to continually communicate positive messages about dental visits to help the child feel as happy and positive as possible about their dental visit.

Take another adult along for the first visit-Sometimes, infants become fussy when having their mouths examined. Having another adult along to soothe the infant allows the parent to ask questions and to attend to any advice the doctor may have.

Our dental office is colorful, child-friendly and boasts a selection of games, toys, Gameboys and educational tools. Dr. Bethel and staff aim to make the child feel as welcome as possible during all visits.

How We Work With Patients

We avoid threatening language

Pediatric dentists and staff are trained to avoid the use of threatening language, like drills, needles, shots, pain, and bleeding. It is of utmost importance that parents use positive language when speaking about dental treatments with their child, whether it be the first visit or any subsequent visit.

We provide positive explanations

It is important to explain the purpose of the dental visit in a positive way. Explaining that the dentist “helps to keep teeth healthy” is far better than explaining that the dentist “is checking for tooth decay and may have to drill on the tooth if decay is found”.

We explain what will happen before it does

Anxiety can be vastly reduced if the child knows what to expect. Age appropriate books about visiting the dentist can be very helpful in making the visit more fun. Here is a list of parent and dentist-approved books:

  • The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist- by Stan and Jan Berenstain
  • Show Me Your Smile: A visit to the Dentist-Part of the “Dora the Explorer“ Series.
  • Going to the Dentist-by Anne Civardi.
  • Elmo Visits the Dentist-Part of the “Sesame Street” Series

What to expect during the first visit

When you first visit our pediatric dental office, you will be greeted by one of our friendly, professional staff members and given a tour of the office. We will answer any questions that you and your child may have and allay any fear. Our goal for all patients is for them to have an enjoyable, easy visit: “Easy As A Day At The Beach”.

Dr. Bethel will go over your new patient forms and medical history.  If your child is under the age of 2, the exam will most likely be a knee-to-knee exam which means that the parent will sit with his/her knees facing the doctor’s knees. The child’s legs are around the parent’s waist and the head is laid back into Dr. Bethel’s lap. This allows the patient to see and be in contact with mom or dad to help in assuaging any fear.

If the child is older, the hygienist will address any questions the child has, introduce them to all of our dental helpers (our instruments: Mr. Tickle, Mr. Thirsty, Mrs. Sippy and our air/water blaster) to develop a rapport with them. 

Referral patients 

If you are coming as a referral from another office, please bring any x-rays or information you have that may be relevant to your treatment with us. After the exam, Dr. Bethel will discuss findings and make any recommendations to you directly and can also share the information with the person who referred you, with your permission.