What is a “Knee to Knee Position” Dental Exam?

A “knee to knee exam” is something we do on our children under 5 who may be uncomfortable in the dental office, or who can’t sit still for more then a few moments at a time. It’s also a great opportunity for parents to learn how to take care of their child’s teeth because of the great angle and view into their child’s mouth.

Knee to knee dental exams are another comfortable way to prevent tooth decay. This can also be part of your child’s first dental exam as a way to help them be comfortable and walk away with a positive experience.

This position is also a great way for parents, who have another adult or older child at home, to brush the toddler’s baby teeth. A child’s oral health habits are best developed early on, and getting the family involved goes a long way.

How is the knee to knee dental exam done?

For this dental visit, the caregiver and medical provider sit with their knees touching — in fact that is where this exam gets it name! We ask the parent to hug the child facing them, and when they’re ready, gently lay the child back with their head in the dental provider’s lap.

This is not an appointment done in the traditional reclining dental chair, and is set up to be more comfortable and personal.

The provider will then stabilize the child’s head, while the parent holds the child’s hands. It’s very important that the caregiver holds the child’s hands so they don’t grab instruments that may hurt them. The child’s legs are also wrapped around the caregiver.

Dr. Jen demonstrating a knee to knee dental exam with a mom and child.
Dr. Jen demonstrates Knee to Knee exam with mom and child

This child and Mom are doing a great job of demonstrating this knee to knee position.

From this position, we can perform an exam, brush teeth, polish teeth, floss, and even apply fluoride!

When we’re all done, the child simply sits up and gets hugs. What a great reward for a job well done?! Another benefit to this particular position is that for our more spirited patients, this exam takes less than 2 minutes! It’s a simple way to check a pediatric dental checkup off your list.

Pediatric dentists are specially trained for the needs of children, and a kind and caring demeanor are a big part of that. This starts with the first visit and can continue until the child is 18.

Do you have an anxious, active child?

If so, call our office and ask us about a knee to knee exam to make sure their dental health is in check! Just click the book appointment button below.

When Does It Make Sense To Start Bringing A Child To The Dentist?

Generally we recommend making an appointment as you notice the first tooth erupting through the gums. That initial visit will mostly be an examination, but it’s an opportunity for your child to meet the dentist, and for the dentist to monitor oral development then and going forward.

As more teeth begin coming in, already having a dental home means you can be sure everything is developing properly

That means that we treat infants as well, since sometimes teeth come in before when you might classify a child as a toddler.

Being able to sit on the caregiver’s lap helps establish comfort, and for patients at this age that’s the most important thing.

How To Prepare For A Knee To Knee Dental Exam?

Setting a positive tone for the day is important. Even if you haven’t always had the greatest experiences at the dentist, it helps not to project your own fears to your child. If you’re nervous, they will be more likely to be nervous.

If you already have your child sit and swing on your lap during play, this will also make the appointment feel more natural since the position will be similar.

One other thing you can do to get them used to aspects of the appointment is to begin gently rubbing their teeth and gums with a warm, wet washcloth. This gets them used to having something gentle in their mouths, and it will make the exam seem less foreign.

Questions about this or other pediatric dental services? Call one of our 3 convenient Burlington area locations below.