#1 FIRST DENTAL VISIT BY THE AGE OF 1YEAR OLD
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics ALL recommend that every child see a dentist by age 1. We chose this tip as the first one because it is the most commonly asked question of dentists by new parents. In our opinion, it’s never too early to bring your child in and let them begin getting comfortable. The more they come with you and see what you’re doing the more comfortable they will be! There is no such thing as a child too young to deserve good oral health.
#2 FIRST DENTAL VISIT SHOULD BE FUN AND EDUCATIONAL
We strive to make a child’s first dental appointment fun and educational. It’s all about a positive experience to develop comfort and trust, as well as learn from the parents what habits/behaviors are exercised at home. When your child is ready, we assess their teeth, practice hygiene in the office, discuss home care, and set a recall schedule. It’s usually not a “good” initial visit when a parent brings a child in for the first time who has a tooth that hurts because of a large cavity they have to have filled. That understandably makes the child not-so-thrilled to return to the dentist! This can be avoided by regular 6 month appointments scheduled beginning at age 1 that are fun and help your child grow to be comfortable with the dentist (he’s not so bad, really).
#3 INDEPENDENT BRUSHING SHOULD BEGIN BY 6 YEARS OLD. FLOSSING BY 10 YEARS OLD
An appropriate target age for brushing independently is around age 6. A good indicator for this is around the same time a child learns to tie their shoes or are finishing kindergarten. Flossing takes a little longer. Most kids shouldn’t floss without the help of a parent until around age 10. It’s important to teach kids how to brush and floss independently, but it’s just as important that, as parents, we make sure they are doing what it takes to adequately clean their teeth and gums.
#4 SEALANTS TO HELP PROTECT TEETH AND MOLARS
We frequently seal first (6-year) and second (12-year) molars to prevent the often-deep pits and fissures from harboring cavity-causing bacteria. We typically roughen the surface of the pits and grooves and paint a thin layer of sealer into the groove to protect the tooth. This won’t stop a cavity, but it does a lot to prevent one from forming! This is a quick and easy procedure and kids won’t even know the sealant is there! “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
#5 DIET PREDICTS CONDITION OF TEETH. EAT HEALTHY
Calcium is very important in the formation of strong teeth. Most 8-14 year olds don’t get enough of it in their diet! Milk and cheeses are the easy way, but if your young ones don’t consume dairy, consider almonds, white/red beans or even oranges. A daily multivitamin, which you choose with the help of your child’s pediatrician, may also be beneficial. In addition to creating a strong foundation for you children’s teeth, it’s also important to avoid food and drinks that are acidic or full of sugar.
Remember, your kids will learn their eating habits from you! Set a good example by eating a healthy, varied diet and always brush and floss your own teeth. It’s good for your kids and good for your own journey toward whole body wellness!
For more articles on dental health, see our main blog page.