Healthy Kids, Healthy Teeth: A Parents’ Guide to Dentistry for Kids
Keep your kids’ teeth healthy with ease.
It is a common misconception that children aren’t as susceptible to oral health problems. Parents often assume that since children will lose their baby teeth, there is no need to worry until adult teeth start appearing. However, tooth decay and cavities are common problems among children. These can lead to health and development issues that can last long into adulthood. This guide for parents will walk you through everything you need to know to help your kids enjoy healthy teeth and a healthy life.
Why Kids Need Regular Dental Checkups
Baby teeth are especially prone to harboring the bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. Small crevices make baby teeth difficult to clean. The starchy and sugary foods kids love to eat aren’t great for their oral health either. Regular preventive cleanings and visits to the dentist can help eliminate bacteria, prevent tooth decay, and help your children become comfortable visiting the dentist.
Infants begin to get their first teeth between six and 24 months. This can be a difficult time for both children and parents. The teething process can be uncomfortable, leading to fussy and irritable children. The dentist will be able to recommend certain strategies for coping with this stage. Gum massages, cold teething rings, and certain teething ointments can help you both get through this period. A regular checkup is the perfect time to get advice that will help you navigate the teething process.
Early dental visits can also help identify any other problems that could interfere with regular development. Keep in mind teeth play an important role in the way we form words. If your child is having oral health issues, it can make it more difficult for them to learn to speak and properly pronounce words. A pediatric dentist can help with all these issues and ensure their mouth is prepared for adult teeth to begin forming.
Common Dental Procedures for Kids
There are a few common dental procedures for kids that will help supplement your at-home efforts and work towards healthy teeth in your child.
A trip to the dentist can be an educational experience. Kids learn more about the proper ways to brush and floss while having their teeth professionally cleaned. These regular cleanings will help their smile look great and help them establish a dental hygiene routine that uses the right techniques.
Children are still perfecting their coordination, which makes it even easier to miss hard-to-reach areas, like back molars. Sealants add an extra layer of protection that will help keep bacteria out and maintain healthy teeth. This treatment is completely painless and simply involves painting the sealant onto the surface of the tooth. The sealant will dry within minutes, and your child will be less vulnerable to tooth decay.
While toothpaste and even tap water contains fluoride that helps protect our teeth, professional treatments use a higher strength of fluoride to protect teeth. This is another quick and painless way to treat new adult teeth and make sure they remain free of bacteria.
X-rays play an important role in detecting tooth decay and monitoring what is happening below the surface of the gums. While dentists will use X-rays sparingly on children, they are necessary to make sure there is enough room for adult teeth. X-rays can also detect any problems with the way teeth are emerging.
What to Expect during Your Kid’s First Pediatric Dental Visit
Your child will probably be around 12 months old when you make their first appointment to the pediatric dentist. At this age, the appointment will focus mainly on establishing a relationship. Your dentist will provide you with valuable information, conduct an assessment, and answer any questions. This is also the time to address any concerns you might have. You can create a plan of action for the future, and learn how to properly brush and care for baby teeth until your child is old enough to start brushing themselves.
For older children, the first visit may include a more thorough cleaning that involves scraping along the gum line, flossing, and polishing. During the visit, the dentist will also examine the teeth and gums to detect any potential issues. They might also recommend X-rays.
#1 Tip for Parents: Be patient.
All too often, parents will visit the dentist, learn that their child has a cavity, and immediately feel guilty. It is easy to be hard on yourself. You’ve worked so hard to protect the health and safety of your children. However, it is important to remember that you can’t always prevent cavities and you have already taken an important step by scheduling a pediatric dentist appointment. You can work with your dentist to establish a treatment plan and get expert advice. You don’t have to do it alone and take on all the responsibility.
It is also important to be patient with your child. They are still learning and developing basic coordination skills, so they aren’t going to be that great at brushing and flossing. Kids may even turn brushing into an all-out battle, so you spend every night fighting to get them to spend a solid two minutes brushing. This may not always be a battle worth fighting, so don’t feel guilty if your child skips a night or only gets in a minute of brushing. They will develop better habits over time.
Perhaps the best thing you can do is lead by example and turn brushing into a family activity. Use a timer to encourage brushing for two minutes and turn on their favorite song to help make the entire process a little more fun. Eventually, they will regard brushing as a part of their daily routine, and with the right approach, they may even enjoy it.
Whether you are looking for a new pediatric dentist or you are ready to schedule your child’s first appointment, contact Pediatric Dental Specialists of Greater Nebraska. We recognize the unique needs of both you and your child, and we will help treat your kids and set them up for a lifetime of optimal oral health.