Good dental health plays a vital role in maintaining the overall health of a child. However, before scheduling the first appointment, parents must consider whether they’ll be most comfortable in visiting a family dentist or a pediatric dentist- a specialist that offers specialized oral care for children. Pediatric dentists normally have child-friendly clinics and equipment designed especially for kids.
How to prepare a child for an appointment?
Keeping the mouth clean: One way to prepare the child is to keep his/her mouth clean by using a small infant toothbrush or running a wash cloth. Experts recommend taking the new born to a dentist after one year, or when the first tooth pops out.
Using dramatic play: Parents can teach children about dental procedures by using role play. They can play games that involve dentists and patients. They can also use props such as dental floss, toothbrushes, flashlights, and paper cups for practicing spitting and rinsing. This may train the child for the appointment.
Talk about teeth: Kids should be informed about dental procedures before they have to face any. Parents must talk to their children about the importance of keeping their mouth healthy. They must also explain the function of different parts of the mouth such as teeth, tongue, gums, and the like.
Be encouraging: It’s good to let children talk about the things that scare them about dentists. Parents must try to make their toddlers feel secure by promising to stay with them during the whole process. Also, in case their children want to take toys, or stuffed animals, for extra security, they should be allowed to do that. Apart from this, explaining the meaning of the words that kids might hear from their dentist such as, cavity, fluoride, x-ray and gums is a good idea.
Visit the dentist before the appointment: A lot of dentists take out time to meet their patients before the actual appointment. The child should be encouraged to meet the staff and sit in the waiting room. This helps in familiarizing the child with the surroundings so that he/she is calm during the appointment.
What to expect during an appointment?
Dental treatment for children differs according to their age. Here is what the parents should expect during the appointments:
Infants (six months to one year):
The hygienist or dentist might place the infant on a table or have the parent hold the child to conduct an examination. Once done, the dentist might:
- Evaluate the overall health of the child and hygiene level.
- Remove any deposits or stains on the child's teeth
- Show proper cleaning techniques
- Look for bumps or sores on the child's tongue, cheeks and on the mouth’s roof.
Toddlers and adolescents:
During regular checkup, the hygienist or dentist evaluates the child's overall health, oral hygiene, eating habits, drinking and risk of tooth decay. Apart from cleaning the child's teeth, the expert might:
- Take X-rays and do diagnostic procedures
- Apply thin coatings such as sealants
- Repair any tooth defects or cavities
- Counsel the child about the problems of jaw clenching, thumb sucking, or nail biting
As the child gets older, dental exams may also include teaching the child about the oral health risks associated with:
- Drinking sugary beverages
- Chewing tobacco
- Oral piercings
- Eating disorders
Parents should realize that the initial experiences their children have at dental clinics decide their attitude towards dental treatments for the rest of their lives. Hence, it’s important to keep the experiences positive. It is also important to choose a doctor wisely. There are several great clinics in California. All one needs to do is research about them over the web.