While it’s felt like winter around here lately, today is the first official day of the winter season! The change of seasons is a great time to swap out your old toothbrush for a new one as they tend to wear out after a few months of use. If you’re still shopping for stocking stuffers, it’s a great opportunity to pick up some toothbrushes and add them to their stocking!
Here are some great tips to help your child like the dentist!
New backpacks, books, and teachers. As children begin another year at school, it is important to make sure they are healthy and strong so that they can excel academically. While they require doctor’s check ups as they grow or perhaps the yearly sports physical, make sure that trip to the dentist is not overlooked! Dental exams are crucial every six months, especially since adult teeth are erupting from elementary school through high school. Protecting teeth properly in the first few years will lead to a full set of chompers your whole life.
Some children may love the dentist, but not mine! I’ve found that the majority of children develop a fear of the dentist if mommy or daddy also has dental anxiety. Even if you are apprehensive about your own dental appointment, make sure not to cancel last minute or postpone having work done. Children can smell our fear! If you are not a fearful parent, their fear may result from the big chair that leans back, the noise of the spinning toothbrush, or opening wide enough to have someone look at their teeth. Whatever the cause, hopefully these 5 tips can help you turn your children’s frowns upside down when they have their next dental appointment!
6-Month Cleanings. Prevention is the first step toward combating dental anxiety in children, and frequent dental check-ups are the first step in prevention. At six month cleaning appointments, we can catch cavities when they are small, protect teeth with sealants before cavities form, and help teach you where your child needs more help brushing his/her teeth. If a cavity is found when it is small, it can be repaired in a shorter amount of time and with less anesthesia required. No long procedures. No pain. No Fear!
Oral Hygiene. At-home care is step two of prevention, but it is equally as important as frequent dental check ups when it comes to reducing dental anxiety in children! When they are wee, help them to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. When they are old enough to brush on their own, some electric toothbrushes even have songs that play for the advised two-minute length while they brush! A child with great oral hygiene will have shorter dental appointments, making it more enjoyable.
Diet. You guessed it! Step three of prevention cannot be overlooked. You’ve hear the sugar saga before – an unlimited supply of sugar will lead to more cavities. Bacteria love sugar and carbohydrates. You already knew that! If your child IS occasionally enjoying a treat, make sure he/she brushes soon after. Also, keep juice out of the sippy cups as much as possible. Teeth cannot stay strong if they are bathed in sugar all day. Water in sippy cups is your friend! High water content fruits and veggies like apples and carrots also help to naturally cleanse teeth.
Practice When They’re Young. Sometimes the big chair that leans back, the noise of the spinning toothbrush, or opening wide enough to have someone look at your teeth can all be very overwhelming. If you have young children, have them lay down on the couch with their head in your lap. Practice brushing their teeth and having them open wide like and alligator! Count their teeth out loud touching each one with the toothbrush. If they know what to expect, they’ll act like a pro in the dental chair!
Be an Example. At our family dental practice, we can schedule your child at the same time, before, or after you! If your children are anxious, it can help to have them watch you have your teeth cleaned and checked before it’s their turn, so they feel better about their experience. If you are brave and strong, they can be too!
No Bribes Necessary. You shouldn’t have to bribe your child with a post-cleaning ice cream trip to be brave at the dentist. If you’re doing as much as you can at home to prevent decay and they know what to expect, it should be a fun outing with some cool gadgets, a few teeth tickles, an awesome ride in the big chair, a dental joke or two, a goodie bag, a trip to the toy chest, and maybe even their favorite show on the big screen TV! Remember that your child should see a family dentist or pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than his/her first birthday!