No parent wants their child to suffer when visiting the dentist. This is especially true since it is so vital for your child to form good dental health habits at a young age. Among those key habits are visiting a pediatric dentist regularly. No one will go to their dental provider regularly if they feel scared, nervous or uncomfortable.
The biggest key to your child feeling comfortable in the dentist’s office is through the prevention of oral health problems. If you prevent issues that cause pain through good home oral hygiene, you also avoid fear and anxiety about going to the dentist.
Below are some tips for improving your child’s dental visits.
1. Take the same good care of baby teeth as permanent teeth
Many parents think baby teeth are not as important as permanent ones since these early teeth fall out at such a young age. But this is the wrong attitude to take. Baby teeth, and how your child cares for them, form the foundation for how they will care for their oral health for the rest of their life.
Also, if a baby tooth falls out too early, this early loss causes emerging permanent teeth to grow in crooked or out of place. If baby teeth decay, this oral disease can affect the permanent tooth forming below the gumline. Infection can also spread to other areas of their body.
Finally, treating baby teeth like later ones involves going to the dentist at least twice yearly. By forming a solid routine of six-month teeth cleanings and exams, your child sets a positive tone for all of their dental visits. They enable early detection of oral health problems and avoid the pitfalls of cavities, gum disease and other problems. Routine visits make them more comfortable with seeing their dentist throughout their life.
2. Supervise their teeth brushing
Children are new to the experiences of brushing and flossing their teeth. They need time and practice to develop the right skills. Allowing them to brush unsupervised is easier on everyone. But by doing so, you do not know that they are brushing properly. They are likely missing hard-to-reach spots in their mouth where cavities commonly start.
3. Provide them with enough brushing time
Never rush your child through tooth brushing. They should brush for at least two minutes, reaching all of the areas of their mouth. They must also floss. While it sounds like they need three minutes to finish these twice-daily steps, they actually need more. It takes a child longer to prepare their toothbrush than for adults, for example. If they feel too rushed, they are more prone to skipping tooth brushing or flossing. They also do a poor job when in a hurry.
4. Avoid rinsing your child’s mouth with water after brushing
Most of us are taught to rinse our mouths with water after we brush. But this is actually wrong, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Children need the fluoride toothpaste provides, to prevent cavities. Children up to the age of five should only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. When they finish brushing, have them rinse only the used brush. Leave the toothpaste on their teeth to work its ongoing fluoride magic.
5. Avoid making threats about their teeth, based on “going to the dentist”
If you tell your children that they must avoid eating sugary snacks, “or you will have to go to the dentist,” you instill fear in them about dental visits. The dentist is not someone they should fear. This makes them anxious before dental appointments and sets them up for skipping visits as an adult.
Kids need to develop a positive rapport with their pediatric dentist and hygienist. Ensure they do not feel dread about going in for a checkup, dental X-rays or teeth cleanings. Your attitude about this oral health care is the attitude your child will adopt, too. By not feeling scared or nervous, your child’s dental appointment goes much better for all concerned.