Frequently Asked Questions?
At what age should kids first go to the dentist?
It’s never too early to establish a dental home for our young ones. Our American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends kids visit the dentist before the age of one. Infants will typically get their first tooth before then and it is important to establish good oral hygiene and dietary habits that will allow them to have healthy mouths for the future. I love these first visits because it’s a great opportunity for me to guide new parents on how to care for their child’s teeth via brushing and flossing techniques, use of fluoride toothpaste, and teeth-friendly diets.
How often do kids need to go to the dentist?
It’s normally recommended to visit the dentist every 6 months. However, there are certain instances where we may want to see kids more frequently. Kids with recent trauma to the teeth, higher risk of cavities, and kids with dental phobias would benefit from more frequent visits recommended by the dentist.
What do you do as a dentist to help make kids feel more comfortable?
· Every kid has a different personality, so it’s my job to figure out what makes them comfortable. Some kids want to know and see everything that goes on during their visit, so I act as a fun tour guide in their exploration of dentistry. Other kids like to be distracted, so storytelling, jokes, and attention-grabbing antics may help them along. · Children can be very sensitive to situations and people. They can sense if the people around them are scared, worried, happy, sad, etc.… I try to give off an aura of confidence, happiness, and friendliness, so they know everything will be good. · I always make sure the kids are heard and they know I am listening to them. They are in control of the situation and the pace of the visit. Loss of control leads to fear and that’s the last thing I want at our visits.
What should a kid's at-home dental routine be like in between visits?
· Brushing twice a day: once after breakfast and once right before bed. Flossing at night after brushing. No food or drinks after the night-time brushing/flossing, except water. · Parents should be brushing/flossing for their kids until they have the dexterity to tie their own shoes. It’s recommended to “dry brush” first so they can confirm all the plaque and food has been removed, then brush with toothpaste after for the benefits of fluoride. · Children with higher risk of cavities would benefit from a fluoride mouth rinse like ACT for Kids. The fluoride helps remineralize the teeth and aid in reducing the accumulation of that pesky bacterial layer of plaque. · A good habit after consuming any food is to drink lots of water to wash away any food in the mouth. I like to use my tongue to clean my teeth after meals. I’ve been doing this before I b
What advice do they have for helping kids prep for and cope with that first dental exam?
Kids are not inherently scared of the dentist. This fear is planted by what they see on TV or what they hear from parents, siblings, or classmates. It’s good to plant positive imagery of what their first dental visit will be like. Cartoons, stories, or anecdotes of positive dental experiences will help reduce anxiety at the dentist. A child’s first visit at the pediatric dentist will be fun, warm, and engaging. It should be portrayed as something fun and not as a punishment.
Is there anything else you feel is important to add to this conversation?
Being afraid at the dentist is very common and it’s okay to feel afraid. It’s my job to help children overcome that fear and achieve something they maybe didn’t think was possible. My hope is that their triumphs and successes in the dental office, can translate to more triumphs and successes in their personal lives outside the dental office too.