For many parents, the mere idea of taking their child to the children dentist fills them with dread. There is no doubt that the first look at the inside of dentist’s office can be very frightening for little ones. But as with so many aspects of our lives, good dental hygiene begins when we are young, and many children dentists say the sooner the better.
When should I take my child to see the children dentist for the first time?
According to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), babies should be assessed by a dentist within 6 months of the first tooth breaking through or by their first birthday. That may sound very young for some parents, but the CDA emphasizes the importance of prevention, or determining any small problems before they have time to develop into big ones. A child should definitely see a children dentist by the age of 2 or 3 when all of the baby teeth are in, the CDA recommends, with regular check-ups following at 6 month intervals.
Why is it so important at such a young age?
Even in very young kids, a children dentist can spot potential problems to avert trouble later. For example, he or she can see where are not the teeth are coming in properly which could indicate the possibility of future orthodontic work. If a young child is already developing minor cavities, it could be that the cleaning process needs improvement or perhaps there are nutritional factors that need to be addressed. And of course, small cavities can be repaired before they get worse and require more intensive treatment.
How can I prevent my child developing “dental phobia”?
This is a really important factor in encouraging long-term dental hygiene in your children. Many adults dread going to the dentist more than public speaking! If you are one of them, try not to convey your fears to your kids. Children have very sensitive radar and can smell fear a mile off. If they see you associating a trip to the dentist with fear and dread, they will grow up doing the same.
Try to explain the importance of the children dentist, stressing the positive aspects of prevention and maintenance, as well as the value of a great smile. The winning combination of good dental hygiene and high self-esteem cannot be underestimated.
How should I choose the right dentist for my child?
The relationship your child forms with his or her dentist can set the foundation for future attitudes and habits. Bear in mind that the children dentist you yourself are seeing may or may not be appropriate choice for your kids.
Ask around. Get some recommendations from family, friends and neighbors. If possible, visit a few dentists yourself and talk to them about their dental programs for children.
Talk to your children to prepare them for that crucial first visit. Don’t just spring it on them, but don’t make it too big a deal either. Gauge their reaction, listen to their concerns and reassure them by answering their questions calmly. Many parents reward a visit to the children dentist with a special treat, such a new toy, which can help a child associate the dentist with a positive result.
Of course, the younger your children are when you start taking them to the kids dentist the less you will need this positive reinforcement.
How can I help my children maintain healthy teeth and gums?
1. The children dentist is an important factor in preventing future dental conditions and repairing existing problems. But remember that good dental hygiene begins at home, requiring daily attention and diligence.
2. Supervise your children when they are brushing their teeth and flossing until you are confident they are doing it properly.
3. Make sure they brush their teeth at least twice a day.
4. Don’t let them use too much toothpaste and never let them swallow it. A pea-sized amount is sufficient for children.
5. Keep sugary foods and drinks to a minimum and make sure they brush their teeth afterward.
6. As some pediatric medicines may contain a significant amount of sugar, encourage your children to brush their teeth after taking these substances to prevent possible discoloration over time.
7. Keep an eye on your children to see if their teeth are coming in straight or if they are developing any problems with their bite. If you have any concerns, consult the dentist right away, even if it is between regular check-ups. The younger a child is, the more pliable their teeth are. This means that very young teeth may be realigned with minor orthodontic procedures, avoiding more intensive treatment at a later age.
8. Last but not least, if your children are real sports devotee, encourage them to use a protective mouth guard to prevent painful, unsightly, and costly damage.
A great smile and health teeth and gums don’t just happen. They have to be nurtured and cared for. The sooner you get your children into good dental habits, the better. That’s a gift that will last them a lifetime!