When was the first time you took your child to the dentist? How was the experience? Most parents take their kids to the dentist when they face any sort of dental problem. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests that a child’s first visit to the dentist must occur when his/her first tooth appears or latest by his/her first birthday. The earlier kids start visiting a dentist, the more positive relationship establishes with dentistry, leading to healthy smile for a lifetime.
This article, containing opinions of experts at Cambridge Pediatric Dental Associates (CPDA), will guide parents on how to make their child comfortable with dentists and how to train them to take care of their dental health.
Looking for the correct dental home for you and your child
The founder of CPDA, Dr. George McEachern, recommends looking for a long term dental home for your child. This is because once a child becomes accustomed to a place, he is less fearful to visit it again. So, as a parent you need to find a team that you can trust, and for your child it is about looking for a place they will feel comfortable and safe going to in the long run.
Dr. George suggests that one must go for a pediatric dentist. The reason being pediatric dentists go through two years of additional training and have staff which are dedicated to cater the needs of children’s dental care. Moreover, a few of them have studied child psychology, which enables them to communicate with kids in a friendly manner, building up a relationship of friendship and trust with them.
Also, pediatric dentist offices are designed specifically for children, with colorful walls, stuff toys, children books, and doodle boards in the waiting areas, so that it can be a place where children will want to come over again.
Prepare your child on what happens during early visits
Initial visits to the dentist involve teaching kids the fundamental dental health care like tooth brushing and making their visits enjoyable. Through initial interactions with the child the dentist figures out how and what things he/she is comfortable with and gradually introduces more procedures like cleaning and full exams.
Kids grasp more from the show-and-tell technique employed by many pediatric dentists. Dr. Fatima Aziz, a former patient at the CPDA and now a dental associate, shows kids a few images so that they can create a picture in their mind on what to expect. She teaches kids dental instruments by using names such as Bubble Maker, Mister Thirsty, and Tooth Tickler and demonstrates their usage on Dentoform stuffed animals, to let kids understand they are nothing to be afraid of.
Dr. Aziz says that a kid returning with a prize after his/her dental visit can buildup good memories of visiting a dentist and will encourage him/her for the next visit. Thus Dr. Aziz herself gifts her patients a special stinker, trinket or a toothbrush.
Learn tips and tricks that can be applied at home
Keep in mind that you and your child’s pediatric dentist are one team whose goal is to keep up your child’s dental health, so never hesitate on asking for help. Take suggestions on what products to use, how much toothpaste to apply on your child’s toothbrush, how to make your child’s brushing routine regular and enjoyable.
Not only this, but your kid’s pediatric dentist can help you control his/her diet as well. Ask them on what foods to avoid to prevent the building up of cavities and when the child should get rid of thumb sucking and pacifiers.
Knowledge of emergency oral care available at your child’s dental home
When kids start growing up and learn motor skills, they are likely to fall into numerous injuries, many of which may affect the mouth. Thus it is better to know beforehand what emergency oral care is available from your child’s pediatric dentist.
Encouraging your child to establish good oral health practices and regular visits to the dentist can lead to your child’s good dental health.