It’s getting close to the end of the year, which means we’ll soon start seeing lots of old and new faces in our office in 2018 (we can’t wait!). While we believe every child is different, with unique personalities and needs, there are some questions that pop up time and time again from parents during a checkup. And we love hearing them, because we want you to feel as informed as possible about your child’s teeth!
We’ve listed a few of the questions we get most often below. If you’d like us to go into more detail about any of these topics, or have a question we didn’t cover here, you know what to do… give us a call!
Did you know that children that are too young to brush their own teeth still need dental care? Even babies without teeth should have their mouth cleaned with a wet washcloth or dampened piece of gauze. Once teeth start coming in, you can clean them with a baby toothbrush and a small smear of fluoride toothpaste (the toothpaste should be no larger than the size of a grain of rice).
This is a great question! Children should have their first visit within six months after the first tooth eruption (or when the tooth becomes visible). Dentists will take a peek into your child’s mouth to get a feel for their bite and jaw, as well as the health of their teeth and gums. This initial visit is less about doing work on the teeth and more about getting children accustomed to the dentist from a young age. Children that become comfortable at the dentist early on will be more likely to carry those habits into adulthood.
It isn’t always easy, but we do have a couple of tips. The most important thing to do is to make it fun! One trick is to have your toddler “brush” your teeth for practice, then brush their own. Another great idea is to use a stuffed animal to model how brushing should look. Don’t forget to incorporate a fun song into any trick you try! We LOVE this one from Sesame Street:
Sing along with your kids, dance a little, and stand next to them in the bathroom, brushing your teeth at the same time. Many tooth brushing songs for kids also serve as a “timer,” which means they are about two minutes long to ensure that children spend enough time brushing their teeth. These kinds of songs are lifesavers in our book!
Thumbsucking and pacifiers will only affect a child’s teeth if the habit continues for a prolonged period of time. Sucking is a natural reflex for babies that begins in the womb, and it makes them feel comforted and reassured. Most children will stop sucking between two and four years of age, as they grow up and explore more of their environment. Parents should discourage thumb sucking if it continues after age four by gently explaining to children that the habit could harm their big teeth, and encourage kids when they avoid sucking their thumb or pacifier in stressful situations.
Soft mouthguards are the easiest and most effective way to protect children’s teeth and gums while they are playing sports. Pediatric dental offices like Behind the Smile can provide custom protective devices that fit your child’s mouth perfectly and prevent damage caused from teeth grinding or impact.
If your child experiences anxiety about a dental visit, they are not alone — it’s very common for children to get nervous before going in for a checkup. One of the best things you can do is to prepare them for the visit early. Children thrive on a sense of predictability, and prepping them will give you as a parent enough time to answer any questions they may have before the visit. Avoid going into too much detail, but be honest with them and explain what they can expect. Verbal explanations may be too much for some children to understand, however, which is where modeling what will happen at the dentist with a stuffed animal comes in handy again. Show your child how the dentist will look into their mouth and brush and floss their teeth. You can even let them practice on the animal themselves, so they feel fully in control of the process.
As always, don’t hesitate to contact us or pull us aside during your next visit if you have any other questions. We’re here to be your partner in keeping your child’s teeth healthy, every step of the way. Bright, sparkling smiles for life is why we do what we do. It makes us happy to see parents that care about the long-term care of their child’s teeth, because we know oral health is key as children grow into strong adults!