Post by: Molly Marshall Hays, DDS, Dentist at Marshall Family Dentistry
In my office I regularly get questions about how to care for my patients’ little ones’ teeth, specifically when their first visit should be. The questions range from daily care to dental visits. Each child responds and acts differently toward their dental care, but one thing doesn’t change…baby teeth are important! [br]
Our office generally doesn’t start seeing children until they’re about 3 years old because, until they’re around 3, they don’t have the skills or understanding to sit in a dental chair and know the dentist or hygienist is just there to help them. If they’re too young they find this situation intimidating. However, if you have concerns about their teeth, don’t hesitate to schedule for a quick exam to make sure there aren’t problems that need to be addressed then. The best thing that mom and dad can do regarding dental visits is make it fun! So often I see parents telling their kids, “If you’ll be good we’ll go get ice cream,” or “I’m so sorry you have to have a filling, but it won’t hurt for long!” The key is to make their trip to the dentist the highlight of their day. Kids absorb so much from their parents and how they react to a particular situation, they tend to mimic Mom and Dad. And as much as most people don’t particularly enjoy the dentist, it’s important to get your kids started off on the right foot.
Until your little one sees a dentist, the single most important thing regarding their teeth is to not give a bottle right before bed! Whether it’s milk, formula, breast milk, etc. there is a significant amount of sugar that will bathe your child’s teeth all night long if it’s not removed before bed. Baby (or primary) teeth are different than adult teeth in that they can get decay easier and it spreads much more quickly. Make sure to brush and floss, or wipe with a cloth each night before bed, but don’t forget about the mornings too! Brushing can be fun. There are electric toothbrushes by Oral B or Sonicare that are made for kids, have a built in timer and are very colorful.
The adults that I see that have aversions to coming to the dentist, more often than not, had a bad experience as a child. So find a dentist that you trust, and start helping your child see the fun in taking care of their teeth. As a new mom I can appreciate the difficulty in taking care of a small child’s teeth, but your hard work will pay off when trips to the dentist are easy and fun.