Going to the dentist can be a scary experience for children. Which is why it is very important that children have a positive experience when going to the dentist.
Start Good Dental Habits Early
Children need to see the dentist when their first baby tooth appears but no later than when they turn a year old according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentristry. Even before that, you should start caring for your kid’s teeth. Although you may not see teeth in your infant’s mouth yet, using a washcloth with warm water and gently wiping the gums every day will help keep down harmful bacteria. Your child’s teeth are below the gum and will start to appear, so it is very important to get in the habit of caring for your child’s mouth. Once a tooth appears, you can start brushing his or her teeth with an infant toothbrush with soft bristles and use a smear of toothpaste on it until age 2 After that, use no more than a pea sized amount of toothpaste until age 5.
Choosing a Pediatric Dentist
You will want to find a pedodontist or pediatric dentist to care for your child’s teeth. Even if you decide on using a family dentist, your dentist should be trained in handling children and the special problems associated with younger patients and their teeth.
Talk with the dentist beforehand. Ask what kind of training and methods he or she has in working with young patients. Look at the waiting room. Does it have toys and books for children, or is it aimed at adults? Does the dentist use bright colors and wear face masks with children’s illustrations rather than have it drab and dreary in the office and wear scary white or green masks? Does the dentist have good kid’s manners when it comes to working with children in the chair? All this is very important as the visits to the dentist can traumatize your child later in his or her life.
Prepare Your Child for the Dentist
Infants are unlikely to understand the visits to the dentist but as your child grows, you may have to explain what all is involved in visiting the dentist. It helps to have a children’s book that goes over the basic dental procedures. Don’t try to relate your experiences to your child as the child may pick up nervousness or insincerity. Likewise, don’t make drill noises or anything that might cause the child to get fearful.
You can stage a mock dentist appointment by using a child’s toothbrush and a mirror and showing how the dentist may look at your child’s teeth. Use the toothbrush to gently tap each tooth and count either using letters of the alphabet or numbers.
If your water isn’t fluorinated, your dentist may wish to prescribe fluoride tablets to your child to keep his or her teeth healthy. Fluoride can be overdone though, so be sure that your water really is low or doesn’t have any fluoride in it.