Pediatric Dentistry: 5 Common Stereotypes
Care for your child’s oral health with confidence.
As you know, looking out for your child’s health is a vital part of caring for them, which is why you take your kids to regular checkups with their pediatrician to make sure they’re staying healthy. Similarly, taking your child to a pediatric dentist follows the same concept and is just as important for their health. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about dentistry for children that discourage some parents from taking their little ones to regular appointments. Understanding the truth behind these stereotypes can help you take better care of your child’s oral and overall health, so we’ve broken down 5 misconceptions we often hear about pediatric dentistry.
1. Dentists are reactive, not preventive.
One of the common stereotypes out there is that dentists don’t do anything to prevent dental issues; they can only treat them once they appear. In reality, a pediatric dentist can take multiple steps to protect your child’s teeth from decay. When your child’s dentist cleans their teeth in the office, they’re removing not just plaque but hardened tartar. Tartar is a hardened film of bacteria that bonds to the surface of your enamel, so you can’t remove it by simply brushing your teeth at home. Leaving it in place can result in a cavity or gum disease, so getting your child regular professional cleanings will help prevent these issues from occurring in the first place. Your dentist can also apply a sealant to your child’s teeth, which acts as a long-lasting barrier between the tooth enamel and oral bacteria to lessen the likelihood they’ll get cavities.
Additionally, your dentist can provide you with vital advice and information to improve your at-home oral care routine. If a certain part of your child’s mouth isn’t getting cleaned as well as the rest, your dentist can warn you so you can pay extra attention to that spot before a cavity occurs. Following a thorough at-home oral hygiene routine with your child is still vital to prevent cavities or gum disease from occurring, but pediatric dentists actually do a lot to actively protect your child from oral health issues.
2. Dental care isn’t affordable.
Like other types of medical treatments, there’s an idea that dental care isn’t affordable. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. Dental insurance usually renders basic dental care, including two yearly appointments and regular X-rays, as necessary care. As a result, it’s usually completely covered or involves only a small co-pay. Even when your child needs more involved treatments, dental insurance usually covers part of the cost—and what you do end up paying is worth it in the end. It’s an investment in your child’s future health and saves you money in the long run. Taking your child to regular appointments, for example, can help prevent the cost of a dental filling or tooth extraction in the future.
Dentists also want to make sure your child gets the care they need right when they need it, so we take steps to make sure you can afford their care. One of the ways we do this is through CareCredit, a credit card specifically for medical costs that lets you pay for the treatment in installments with little to no interest. If you’re worried about affording your child’s treatment, you can always talk to one of our team members about your options.
3. Young kids don’t need to go to the dentist because cavities in baby teeth don’t matter.
This idea stems from the idea that it doesn’t matter if baby teeth stay perfectly healthy because they’ll be falling out eventually. But, baby teeth have a vital role to play in your child’s mouth. Not only do they help your little one eat and speak effectively, but they help guide their permanent teeth into place. It’s painful for your child to lose a baby tooth to decay, but losing a baby tooth too soon can also cause the permanent tooth to come in crooked or not quite in the right place. The resulting crooked or overcrowded teeth will likely need to be straightened out by braces in the future.
Although they play a vital role in the development of your child’s permanent teeth, baby teeth are also more vulnerable to decay. They have a thinner layer of protective enamel, which means cavities form and spread more quickly on baby teeth. This is why it’s very important for you to take your child to the dentist regularly.
4. It’s inevitable for kids to be afraid of the dentist.
Since many adults and children alike suffer from dental anxiety, there’s a common stereotype that it’s simply inevitable for kids to be afraid of the dentist. The dentist is admittedly a common fear among young children, but it’s not inevitable. There are steps you can take to prepare your child for a positive experience at the dentist. A few ways to do this include teaching them good oral hygiene and reading books that show them what to expect.
You should also be careful not to paint the appointment in a scary or boring light, even unintentionally. If you’re nervous, your child is likely going to pick up on that and become more nervous as well! Finding a great dentist who goes above and beyond to keep your child comfortable and entertained is also incredibly important. There are plenty of ways to help your child have a positive — even fun — experience at the dentist, making the appointment more enjoyable and less stressful for you and your child.
5. Dentistry isn’t concerned with my child’s overall health.
Although there’s a stereotype that dentistry doesn’t concern itself with overall health, this is very far from the truth. We tend to think of our mouths as separate, but your mouth isn’t isolated from the rest of your body. The health of your child’s mouth impacts their overall health, so keeping their teeth and gums healthy is an integral part of keeping their body healthy too. Even a toothache from a cavity can make it harder for your child to eat, impacting their nutrition — which is more important than ever when they’re growing. Oral bacteria can also be inhaled, increasing the likelihood of your child getting a respiratory illness.
Additionally, periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease where oral bacteria make it beneath the gumline and into your child’s bloodstream. This causes chronic, low-level inflammation throughout the body and weakens your child’s immune system. By preventing cavities and gum disease, your child’s pediatric dentist is also taking steps to protect their overall health.
Oral health is vitally important, even for baby teeth.
Once you get to the truth behind these stereotypes, it becomes clear that pediatric dentistry is incredibly important for your child’s oral and overall health. Thankfully, however, it’s also affordable and can be a positive experience for your child. If you’re ready to take advantage of the many oral health benefits pediatric dentistry can offer your child, you can call and schedule an appointment with our office at any time.