As protective and loving parents, we can all agree providing the best care for our little ones is at the top of our list of priorities. From religiously following expert parent tips to purchasing the best kids shoes for their gorgeous little tootsies and ensuring their teeth remain cavity-free, it's a parent's job to ensure their child's health is in tip-top tooth-to-toe condition!
Why is Dental Health Important for Kids?
When it comes to your child's dental health (yours included), regular checkups are essential. Besides ensuring your child's teeth don't rot away, regular dentist visits also help maintain good mouth hygiene, thus keeping gum disease and subsequent tooth loss at bay.
Avoiding dental visits also puts you and your child at risk of missing serious health concerns such as cancer, strokes, and heart disease, as these can be spotted by changes in your mouth!
How to Prepare Yourself For Your Childs First Dental Visit
Taking your child to the dentist for the first time can feel daunting but try not to worry as these are normal parent nerves. Instead, focus on making their dentist visit a positive parenting win!
- Stay Calm
If you are calm, your child won't see any reason to worry. Speak positively about the dentist and explain that their job is to help keep teeth healthy.
- Allow for Extra Time
When heading off to the appointment, leave early in case of traffic or difficulty parking. Rushing to get to the checkup on time will only increase your stress levels and put your little one on edge.
- Put Your Parent Goggles On
Ask the dentist if your child may sit on your lap during the examination. This will help you and your child feel less stressed and increase the likelihood of them cooperating with the stranger (dentist) looking at their teeth!
When Should Kids go to the Dentist?
It's recommended that children go to the dentist by their first birthday or within six months of their first tooth erupting - whichever comes first. This allows your dentist to assess and prevent potential problems early on.
What Happens at Your Child's First Dental Appointment?
During their first appointment, your child's dentist will assess their teeth and gums, provide advice on how to care for your little one's oral health, and discuss any preventive treatments that may be needed.
This is also a great opportunity to ask questions about anything you're unsure of, for example, brushing techniques, toothpaste for kids, and what type of toothbrush is best- your dentist is there to help!
How Often Should You Take Your Child to the Dentist?
Children should have a dental checkup every six months or as often as their dentist recommends. It's also important that they have plenty of fluoride in their diet, which can help prevent tooth decay.
Parent Tips for Increasing a Child's Fluoride
Fluoride can be found in foods such as raisins, spinach, and potatoes (baked, not fried) and most mouth hygiene products, including toothpaste and mouthwash.
Parent Tips for a Child's First Dental Appointment
- Explain the process
Knowledge is power, and no kid understands this better than yours! If they know what will happen in advance, there will be no scary surprises.
- Talk About Teeth Often
Discuss the importance of looking after their teeth and take them shopping for their first big kid's toothbrush. This can help build excitement and anticipation before their first visit.
- Make the Dentist Fun
You can also read stories about going to the dentist and pretend to play dentists at home to help alleviate any fears your child may have. For example, take turns looking at each other's teeth and ask them to check their toy's teeth as well. Taking the mystery out of what the dentist is doing goes a long way toward helping your child enjoy a stress-free dentist visit.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Encourage your child to practice brushing their teeth regularly from an early age. Learning a little self care on their part will also mean a little less stress for you! There are lots of child-friendly mobile apps that you can download to encourage them to get into the tooth brushing mood!
The Final Gnasher
Remember, children are masters of mimicry; if you care for your teeth, they will too. Unfortunately, if you avoid the dentist, they will likely do the same.
Getting into the habit of heading to the dentist regularly will ensure your child follows your good oral hygiene example. And as you know, leading by example is positive parenting in action!
Most importantly, it will mean that, like you, they will remain cavity-free, healthy, and in possession of their pearly whites for many years to come!