Did you know almost one in five children has an untreated dental issue? We know you do your job as a parent to the best of your abilities. And there’s a stack of school and family events, as well as after-school activities, that keep you super busy.
So yes, it’s tricky to check all the boxes as a parent. But missing out on regular trips to a pediatric dentist will only make a future problem bigger. And more expensive.
If you’re ready to finally book that first dental appointment, then we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn how to prepare your child for the pediatric dentist.
Why the Dentist is So Important
Dental visits are an important preventative health factor, protecting us from unnecessary pain down the track. It’s unfortunate we separate the mouth from the body when we think about health prevention. Oral health unquestioningly affects general health in its influence on what we eat, how we speak, how we sleep, and our overall quality of life.
- Cardiovascular disease – clogged arteries may link to inflammation that oral bacteria cause
- Endocarditis – an infection of the inner heart, caused by bacteria spreading from other areas, such as the mouth
- Birth and Pregnancy – periodontitis has links to premature births and low birth weights
So when you think about dental appointments, think about it as just as important as regular doctor checks.
When to Start Going to the Pediatric Dentist
There is a lot of confusion among parents about when to take their children to their first dental visit. Should it be when their first tooth emerges, not until they lose their milk teeth, or something in-between? The American Dental Associates recommend that children first see a dentist near their first birthday.
After the first appointment, your child should be trotting along to the dentist around every 6 months. Your dentist might recommend intervals that are longer or shorter, depending on the situation of your little patient. These appointments are likely to be pretty quick, just long enough for a quick check and to give you advice about keeping their oral health in check.
Why Go When They Lose Milk Teeth Anyway?
Sometimes parents delay the first trip to the dentist since their 1-year old doesn’t even have a mouth full of teeth. Remember, the dentist is about oral health – not just healthy teeth. They’ll be looking at where the teeth are coming through, and making sure there are no future bacteria issues building up.
They might give some advice about when to transition from bottle to cup. They’ll have some suggestions if thumb-sucking is a habit. For older children, they may advise around the dangers of nail-biting or teeth-clenching.
Should I Be in the Room During the Check-Up?
When your child goes along to see their pediatric dentist, you should definitely be in the room. Apart from anything else, this helps keep your child calm. It tells them how important a trip to the dentist is.
It also means the dentist can talk to you as they check your little one’s oral health. They can point out any issues to you, and give you cleaning and maintenance tips. It’s an opportunity for you both to learn, together.
What Will the Dentist Do?
The dentist will place your child on the examination chair, and they’ll evaluate their overall oral health. They’ll ask you about their drinking and eating habits. This helps them form an overall picture of their risk of tooth decay.
The pediatric dentist might remove stains or causes of early tooth decay. They’ll look for sores or bumps inside their mouth that indicate bigger issues. For older children, they’ll repair cavities, and might apply sealants or take x-rays as required.
They’re experts in what they do. Which means they can tell you way ahead of time if a special mouthpiece or braces will be required later on. They’ll impress on your child the importance of brushing after every meal – which, on its own makes the appointment worthwhile!
How Do I Prepare My Child for the Appointment?
Did you know we can pass our fears onto our children? They are incredible observers. It’s good to be aware of that if you know you are nervous about taking yourself to the dentist.
Speak positively about the dental trip, making a special effort to avoid any reference to discomfort. Find a recommended pediatric dentist so you can feel more confident that their first trip will be a positive one. Be sure to listen to your child, addressing any anxiety they might have about going.
For small children, there are some quality videos and books out there about trips to the dentist. Show them videos to help them visualize ahead of time. These videos help to normalize a trip to the dentist for them.
What Problems to Expect
At this stage, the only big problems with dental trips come from avoiding them. Or by speaking about the negatively, creating fear or anxiety for children. As they get older, they may experience dental issues from life choices such as smoking, sugary drinks, or not wearing a mouthguard during sport.
You can avoid a lot of that by building healthy associations with regular dental visits now. Pediatric dentists often have specially decorated clinics to appeal to children and put them at ease. You might be surprised at how expert they are at putting your child at ease and explaining everything before they do it.
Time to Book That Appointment!
Now you know just how important it is that your child has regular dentist appointments. It’s preferable that they happen every 6 months, with a pediatric dentist. The longer you put it off, the bigger and more expensive the problem might be.
Worst of all, if you delay, the message you’re giving your child is that dental visits aren’t a priority. You might, unwittingly, be passing your fear of dentists to them. To make sure your child not only has lots to smile about but a perfect smile to do it with, get in touch with a pediatric dentist today!