Tooth decay affects one in five children under five according to the American Association of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD). This is one of the reasons that you should be taking care of your child’s oral hygiene at a young age. By catching any conditions and symptoms early, your pediatric dentist will be able to diagnose the issue and treat it properly and effectively.
Some more reasons why you would want to bring your child to the dentist include:
- You will be able to determine if what you’re doing at home is working
- Your dentist can identify any problems right away and resolve them
- Your child can learn proper techniques to oral hygiene
Your child dental specialist (known as a pediatric dentist) will ensure that your child is equipped and set up to have a healthy smile to last a lifetime.
When Should You Take Your Child To See a Dentist?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the right time to take a child to the dentist is when their first tooth comes in. This is typically around the age of 6 months.
If you notice any abnormalities in your child’s mouth such as white spots, bleeding, lesions or etc., make an appointment right away.
Qualities to Look For in a Pediatric Dentist
There are many establishments to decide from when looking around for a pediatric dentist. You may be wondering what are the top skills and qualifications that a child dental specialist should possess for your child’s needs.
Some traits of a great pediatric dentist include:
This includes a colorful and inviting facility with toys in the waiting room. There should also be tools specially designed for smaller mouths and staff that enjoy working with children. Not only does a friendly staff communicate well with parents but it makes children feel comfortable too.
Checking reviews of the pediatric practice is critical to determining whether that practice is worth checking out. It is a fantastic way of seeing what past experiences were like. Highly-rated dentists are often recognized and recommended by their patients, communities and dental organizations for their work.
A pediatric dentist completes more schooling than the average dentist (two-three years more) to focus on children’s dental problems and habits including teething, thumb sucking, etc. They are also knowledgeable about child development so they know how best to treat young patients in their developmental stages.
What to Expect When You Take Your Child to The Dentist
Your child will often be with you in the room during their first visit. If they are fidgety, squirmy or won’t sit still in the dental chair, they may be placed on your lap for the most comfort possible. The dental specialist will perform a routine exam, looking for tooth decay and checking your child’s bite, jaw, gums or other problems that could affect speech or teeth.
They will then clean your child’s teeth and gums carefully with their specialized instruments and advise you on how best to properly care for your child’s oral health. Any questions you may have, they will answer those too.
Many dental professionals recommend booking an appointment to see the dentist twice a year, but be sure to ask your pediatric dental specialist what they would recommend based on your child’s individual needs. Your pediatric dentist is there to help guide you and your child toward a lifetime of great oral hygiene.
Cleaning Your Child’s Teeth for Optimal Oral Health
From birth to 12 months, take a clean baby washcloth or gauze and gently wipe your child’s gums. When your child’s first tooth appears, use water and a baby toothbrush to clean its surface. The best time to clean your child’s teeth is after breakfast and before bedtime according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
From ages 12-24 months, use a pea-size amount of toothpaste not containing fluoride and a child-sized toothbrush. Unless your dentist recommends fluoridated toothpaste, it is best not to use it. This is because children are typically not safe from the ingestion of the excessive amounts of toothpaste. Brushing and flossing are a huge part of a complete dental hygiene regimen. It is important to use the proper technique.
“To brush your child’s teeth:
1. Angle the brush 45 degrees to the gums
2. Move the brush gently back and forth
3. Brush all surfaces of teeth (including outer, inner and chewing)To brush the inner surface of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically, and brush up and down gently
4. Brush your tongue to remove any bacteria.
To floss your child’s teeth:
1. Cut about 18 inches of floss
2. Wrap one end around one middle finger and the rest around your other middle finger
3. Hold the floss tightly between the thumbs and forefingers, and gently insert it between the teeth
4. Curve the floss into a C shape, and gently move the floss up and down while keeping it pressed against the tooth
4. Floss all the teeth, and do not forget to floss behind the back teeth.”
When your child has two teeth that touch, this is when flossing should begin. This is because bacteria is susceptible to getting in between the teeth. Around 2 to 2 ½ years of age is when your child develops touching teeth.
Typically, your child can brush by themselves at age 6. However, flossing independently on average begins at around 8-10 years old. A floss holder is an excellent tool to help your child floss their teeth with more ease.
Overall, practicing daily brushing and flossing for and with your child can prove to be beneficial for oral hygiene and parent and child bonding.
Going to routine dentist appointments twice a year or however much your pediatric dentist recommends is also very important as they will check for any tooth decay and also check your child’s bite, jaw, gums or other problems that can affect speech or teeth.
When deciding which child dental specialist to entrust, be sure to be open to the ones that are highly-rated, kid-friendly and highly-trained.
Following all of these, your child can be certain that they will have a healthy and beautiful smile for a lifetime.