As a new parent, it can sometimes be challenging to know if you’re doing it right! While there are an infinite number of decisions to be made, one that will impact your child’s life will be your selection of a pediatric dentist. In addition to asking for referrals from friends and family, you will want to find a dentist in Midwest City who is gentle and makes going to the dentist a fun, learning adventure!
No matter the age of your child, from toddler to teen, the beginning of a great smile begins with the first visit. A soothing and relaxed environment will put your child at ease. Oftentimes, pediatric dentists will offer fun themes or incentives for their young patients, from jungle motifs to treasure boxes to video games, for older kids. While these items shouldn’t be the most important aspect of your child’s dental care, they can certainly go a long way to making your child feel comfortable in his or her surroundings, and that always makes for a better dental appointment! Some pediatric dental offices offer a “kids zone” or a “no cavity club” or a “brushing bonus” to reward children for proper oral hygiene. Finding a “dental home” where your child feels content is often the first step on the path to your child’s lifetime of oral health care.
How can parents help young children maintain a healthy attitude about dental care? First, children will follow your lead. If you are apprehensive about going to the dentist, your child will be, too. No one is born being afraid of the dentist; it is an acquired fear that can be quashed early on in a child’s life. Next, helping a child to brush at least twice a day and help with routine flossing will help maintain a healthy mouth. Children as young as age 2 or 3 can begin to use toothpaste when brushing, as long as they’re supervised to avoid ingestion of large amounts of toothpaste. Parents must work with children to teach good oral health habits. Tooth discoloration can also occur – sometimes caused from prolonged use of antibiotics or medications that contain a large amount of sugar. Parents should encourage children to brush after they take their medicine, particularly if the prescription will be long-term. Additionally, regular exams by a pediatric dentist are a critical part of maintaining your child’s oral health… but follow-up at home plays an equally important role.
So what is the difference between a regular dentist and a pediatric dentist? A pediatric dentist offers specialized services, just for children. A pediatric dentist is a medical specialist dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teen-age years. These doctors have had special pediatric dental training, which allows him or her to provide the most up-to-date and thorough treatment for a wide variety of children’s dental problems. When searching for a dentist for your child, ask if they offer pediatric services such as restorative dentistry, as well as interceptive orthodontic treatments to help straighten your child’s smile before the actual braces phase. Because preventive dentistry helps avoid future dental problems, it’s important that the doctor regularly monitor the development of your child’s teeth. Building a relationship with your dental professional is key in assuring long term benefits for your child.
As a new parent, when do you start taking your child to the dentist? What are some of the possible problems your child can encounter? According to the American Dental Association, the recommendation is that a child’s first visit take place by his or her first birthday. It may vary from office to office, but generally, at the first visit, the dentist will conduct a modified exam while your baby sits on your lap. He or she will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques and answer any other questions you may have. Such visits can help in the early detection of potential problems, and help kids become accustomed to visiting the dentist so they’ll have less fear about going as they grow older. Many parents know they want to prevent cavities, but they don’t always know the best way to maintain their baby’s dental health. Proper dental care begins even before a baby’s first tooth appears. Running a damp washcloth over your baby’s gums following feedings can prevent buildup of damaging bacteria. Once your child has a few teeth showing, you can brush them with a soft child’s toothbrush. Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle in his or her mouth can harm the baby’s teeth, creating a condition known as bottle mouth. Severe cases result in cavities and the need to pull baby teeth. Care should be taken to avoid damage and to provide babies with the oral care necessary for overall health. Good oral hygiene and regular dental visits are the most important part of cavity prevention. Your child’s dental visits may include preventative treatments such as the application of fluoride and tooth sealants. Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel, helping to ward off the most common childhood oral disease – dental cavities. Keeping kids’ teeth healthy requires more than just daily brushing. During a routine well-child exam, you may be surprised to find the doctor examining your child’s teeth and asking you about your water supply. That’s because fluoride, a substance that’s found naturally in water, plays an important role in healthy tooth development and cavity prevention. Fluoride exists naturally in water sources and is derived from fluorine, the thirteenth most common element in the earth’s crust. It is well known that fluoride helps prevent and even reverse the early stages of tooth decay. If you have any questions fluoride, talk to your doctor for more information. In addition, as your child’s permanent teeth grow in, the dentist can help seal out decay by applying a sealant to the back teeth, where most chewing occurs. This protective coating keeps bacteria from settling in the hard-to-reach crevices of the molars. With regular dental visits and good oral health habits at home, your child will have the best chance to avoid cavities in the future.
Selecting the right pediatric dentist for your child can set the foundation for a lifetime of excellent oral health. Make sure to research your doctor and to find a dental home where you and your child feel welcome and comfortable. Your child’s beautiful smile will be worth it!