A child's oral health can significantly influence their overall development and well-being. As parents, we need to keep our children's oral health in its optimal state and prevent medical complications that can compromise their quality of life. Teaching our little ones healthy dental habits early on can mitigate potential oral health problems that might manifest once they reach adulthood.
One critical dental practice that can greatly impact our children's oral health is having their teeth routinely cared for by a reliable and competent dentist. Regular dental visits can help ensure your child's pearly whites remain healthy and strong. Knowing when and how often your little one should see a dentist is essential, as the frequency of your child's dental visits may vary with other children.
When Should My Child Go to the Dentist?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, babies should see a dentist by their first birthday to detect early symptoms of oral problems. While it is recommended for your child to see a dentist every six months, children with certain dental health issues may need to have their teeth checked more frequently.
If your child doesn't have significant dental problems, visiting the dentist twice a year or every six months is ideal. However, if they're exhibiting symptoms of dental issues, you should consult with their pediatric dentist on how often you should schedule an appointment for your little one.
Aside from regular checkups, routine cleanings should be part of your child's dental visit routine to prevent serious problems like tooth decay. Even if their teeth appear clean and healthy, they should be cleaned regularly by a licensed dental professional.
What Are the Common Signs of Tooth Decay in Children?
Children without good dental habits are more susceptible to tooth decay. Eating starchy food and snacks with high sugar levels can also increase your child's chances of developing severe dental problems. While the signs of tooth decay vary with every child, some general symptoms you need to watch out for include sensitivity to certain foods, pain around the tooth area, and tooth holes.
How Can I Take Care of My Child's Teeth?
Aside from visiting the dentist regularly, you can keep your little one's teeth healthy by:
- Helping your child brush their teeth daily until they turn seven or eight years old.
- Limiting or reducing your child's intake of sugary food and drinks.
- Using toothpaste and a toothbrush suitable for children.
- Replacing their toothbrush every three months.
- Encouraging your child to eat a balanced diet.
- Helping them floss until they're around ten years old.
What Should I Do Before My Child's Dental Visit?
Seeing a dentist at an early age will not only prevent severe dental concerns but can also help strengthen the bond between your child and their dentist, making succeeding visits more manageable and familiar. Here are some things you can do to help make your child's dental visit a memorable and positive experience for your child:
- Schedule an appointment in the morning, as late afternoon dental visits can cause your child to be cranky or uninterested
- Arrive a few minutes early before the scheduled time and allow your child to roam around the clinic to help make them feel comfortable with the surroundings
- If your little one has a favorite toy, remember to bring it to the appointment. Having a cherished toy friend by their side might help make them feel less nervous and more participative
- Talk to them positively about the upcoming dental visit but avoid giving them too much information
- Do role-plays at home and pretend you're the dentist. Use this opportunity to educate your child on the benefits of regular dental visits and why they should cultivate good oral hygiene habits
- Read storybooks about going to the dentist. Choose well-written books with quality pictures, and make sure it is child-appropriate
- If possible, do a fun activity after your dental visit to make the day memorable and enriching for your child
- Share your own dental experiences with your child, and remember to be mindful of your words
What Should I Look for in a Pediatric Dentist?
Whether you're looking for a new or replacement pediatric dentist, here are a few tips to help you choose the right person for your little one.
- Instead of choosing a general dentist, find a specialist that can provide for your child's specific needs. For instance, if your child has a developmental disability, it would be best if he gets treated by a dentist trained to care for children with special needs
- Make sure that their clinic is child-friendly, especially their waiting area. It should evoke a comfortable and safe atmosphere for your child to ensure that their overall dental experience will be favorable
- Look for a dentist who offers initial consultation, so your child can meet them with minimal pressure. An initial consultation can also help you see how the dentist and the staff interact with your child. Pay attention to their overall attitude and how they treat other patients
- Ask for recommendations from friends and relatives who have children of their own. Make sure to ask about their children's dental experiences and why they chose their respective dentists. Exhaust all available resources and remember to check online patient reviews. You can also join online community parenting groups and visit third-party review platforms. Reading unbiased feedback from other parents can give you a general idea of how your preferred dentist will relate to your child
- Consider their office location and level of convenience. While seeing a prominent or highly-skilled dentist can benefit your child, if their clinic is far from your place, traveling for long hours can create a sense of discomfort for your child. Find a dentist you can easily access regardless of your mode of transportation. Take note of their office hours and ensure they can accommodate your child's schedule
If you're located in Tempe, Phoenix or Avondale Arizona, consider setting an appointment with AZ Family & Kid's Dental, as our dentists are trained to provide your child with the best possible dental care.