Dentist Information for Kids
When you’re coming to our DFW dentist practice for the first time, there are a number of things you and your child (or children) might like to know. Here is a brief overview of what we hope will be provide some helpful information about kids’ dental needs and our practice.
The First Dental Visit
The current dentist information for kids provided by The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children have their first visit to the dentist by their first birthday.
If you have never taken your child to the dentist before, we want to help make your child’s first dental visit a positive and enjoyable experience. Children aren’t born afraid of the dentist; that reaction is something they pick up from adults. The following dentist information for a kid’s first visit can help your child avoid any anxiety:
- Please don’t tell your child that there is nothing to fear because they are naturally without fear unless someone suggests otherwise. We like to joke that a parent would never tell a child that there is nothing to fear about a visit to the grocery store or the library, so why say it about a visit to the dentist?
- At our DFW dentist office, Dr. Debra Seznik and the entire office team make every effort to ensure that your child’s first visit is a pleasant and comfortable experience from the moment your family arrives at our office. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by friendly people with warm smiles and personalities that work well with children. We’ll show you around and get you and your child comfortable with the office and the staff.
- Surprisingly, most kids actually do better if their parents are not in the treatment room with them, but are close by. As a result, we usually see the child alone, but have created a Parent Nook that is right outside the treatment room so the parent is very close by. Parents and children remain within hearing distance of each other, but the parent isn’t actually in the room . . . unless it becomes clear that it would be better for all if they were. We are always flexible and will do what works best for each individual situation and patient.
- Words convey meaning in more ways than one, so instead of saying things like “hurt”, “drill,” or “needle,” we find it’s best to use words such as “wiggle”, “buzz,” sleepy juice” and “tooth counter” –and we ask parents to join us in using friendly non-threatening terminology.
- During the first visit, Dr. Deb will make friends with your child. She employs the “Tell-Show-Do,” method which means she will explain to your child what she is going to do, then show them, often on their hand, and then do it, while telling them what she is doing. This is very helpful in making the first visit as relaxed and fun as possible. She also offers a mirror if they want to watch.
- Depending on how the visit is going, Dr. Deb will conduct a dental exam, check for decay, check to see that the teeth are coming in properly, perform a cleaning, take x-rays and may do a fluoride treatment. Please click here for more detailed information about Kids Dental Checkups. Dr. Deb may also recommend a dental sealant. If there is an unusual amount of decay, she may recommend CAMBRA caries (cavities) risk management. All of this will be discussed with both parent and child ahead of time — no surprises.
Caring for Your Child’s Teeth and Developing Good Habits – You Can Prevent Tooth Decay
The most important dentist information for kids that we can share is how to care for your child’s teeth at home between checkups. We only see your children twice a year, so at-home care is of the utmost importance in maintaining good dental health and instilling good habits.
When your child’s first tooth arrives, use a soft bristled toothbrush and a pea size amount of fluoridated children’s toothpaste, and brush every night before bed. Brushing after every meal is ideal, but not always practical. As more teeth come in, flossing becomes equally important; Dr. Deb or your hygienist will guide you about when flossing becomes appropriate for young children.
As new teeth appear, examine them frequently for changes in color or lines/grooves that may be sign of tooth decay. If you see any signs of trouble or decay, contact us immediately. No dental problems get better with time; they only get worse. For more details about what to look for in between visits to your DFW dentist, please visit our kids dental check-ups page. Children and adolescents are at the highest risk of tooth decay because they haven’t completely developed good oral hygiene habits. Their risk is also increased because sugary foods and liquids attack young teeth and gums even more so than adult teeth because baby teeth have weaker, thinner enamel. That’s why it’s important to minimize your kids’ exposure to sugar and to brush and rinse immediately after.
Length of time in contact with the teeth significantly influences how much damage the sugar will do, so discourage suckers, and sticky chewy candies and treats. If your kids do have them, be sure to have them brush and rinse right afterwards. The “length of time” factor is some of the most important dentist information for kids that parents need to know. Replace sugary foods with healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts and other non-sugary snacks. This will be better for your child’s teeth and also for their weight and overall health. Older kids might chew gum or suck on mints made with xylitol, which aids in minimizing their own oral bacteria, to reduce acid after eating sugars.
Current dentist studies, data and information for kids indicate that fluoride treatments and sealants can make a BIG difference in the health of your child’s teeth, so we strongly recommend that you learn more about them and we encourage you to choose the appropriate treatments for your child.
Following these guidelines — and seeing your DFW kids dentist at least twice a year — will help ensure a lifetime of good oral health!
Early Tips – Dental Information for Young Kids, Babies, and Toddlers
- Probably everyone knows this by now, but it bears repeating: Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle. It’s very bad for their teeth.
- Start brushing baby teeth when they first erupt, wiping gums and teeth with a wet wash cloth or gauze.
- Thumb sucking can affect the shape and placement of teeth. A pacifier may be a better option than the thumb because it can be taken away for periods of time and the child can eventually be weaned off it, unlike a thumb which is always available.
- Sugary foods and drinks wreak havoc on a young child’s teeth as the enamel on new teeth isn’t strong enough to protect against the decay-causing acid they produce. Keep your kids away from sweets for as long as you can, and be sure they brush and rinse immediately following sugary treats.
- Bacteria from the parents,’ babysitter’s or caretaker’s mouths can easily transfer to the child’s mouth. Yes, it’s contagious. Since there will always be kisses and tasting and blowing on hot food and sharing of utensils, etc. parents and caregivers might consider chewing gum and mints with xylitol to reduce their own oral bacteria. HOWEVER, xylitol is poisonous for dogs, so make sure you keep it away from your pets and never leave a product where a dog might be able to reach it.
General Dentist Information for Kids — Tooth Development
As with any children’s developmental stages, there are variations in timing, but generally speaking, your child’s first tooth will usually begin to appear between the ages of 6 and 12 months. The rest of the 20 primary or “baby” teeth usually erupt by age 3. When teeth erupt, the gums may become tender and sore and may make your child feel irritable. You can help relieve the pain by rubbing the gums with a clean finger or cloth, or you may offer the child a teething toy.
As the permanent or adult teeth begin to erupt at around age 6, the primary teeth come loose and are shed throughout childhood. A normal mouth will have 32 permanent adult teeth, including the third molars or “wisdom teeth.” Click here for a chart showing the timing of tooth development.