Children’s Oral Health — What Every Parent Should Know

You want what’s best for your children, including the healthiest smile possible. As a parent, it’s your job to help them stay on top of their oral health, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start and what to do as they get older. To give you a leg up, we’ve filled this blog full of the basics of children’s oral health.children's oral hygiene

We’ll look at:

  • When to take your child to the dentist for the first time
  • What to expect during your child’s dental exam
  • Children’s basic oral hygiene
  • Helping your child have straighter teeth
  • Overcoming being scared of the dentist

It’s important to lay a good foundation for your child’s oral health as early as possible. Here is how you can help your child develop good habits that will last a lifetime.

When to Take Your Child to the Dentist for the First Time

There can be a lot of confusion over when to take your child to the dentist for the first time. Dentists used to recommend that a child’s first appointment be between one and two years old, or within six months of their first tooth coming in. It’s also not uncommon for people to wait until their fourth birthday for their appointment. 

However, you should actually take your child to the dentist much earlier than this. According to the American Dental Association, the best time to take your child to the dentist is either when their first tooth comes in or before their first birthday. Both options are ideal since they ensure that your baby will see one of our dentists between six and 12 months of age.

What to Expect During Your Child’s Dental Exam

As a parent, it helps to be prepared for your child’s first dental exam to help guide them through the process. Most children’s exams (2 years and older) involve the basics:

  • Oral exams
  • Cleanings
  • X-rays, if needed
  • Suggestions for brushing and flossing

The methods for treating adults and children are similar. With that said, dentists that have experience in pediatric dentistry are more prepared than others to treat your child. That’s why our dentists stay up to date on the latest methods and techniques to provide the healthiest smiles for your whole family.

Children’s Basic Oral Hygiene

If you’re a new parent then chances are that it’s been a long time since you’ve had to think about children’s oral health. Fortunately, helping maintain your child’s oral health is similar to maintaining your own. This includes: 

  • Developing healthy oral hygiene habits
  • Eating a tooth-friendly diet
  • Keeping their teeth healthy at school
  • Visiting the dentist regularly

To help develop healthy oral hygiene habits, start by ensuring that your child brushes for two minutes twice per day. To help make it fun and to time them, have your child brush their teeth to their favorite song. You also want to make sure they’re using proper brushing techniques and are flossing. Small children can feel like a big kid by brushing their teeth alone or with the assistance of an adult.

Just like adults, kids should be eating a tooth-friendly diet. The occasional sugary snack or treat is okay, but too many can lead to tooth decay. Keeping their teeth healthy at school can be especially challenging. You can encourage your child to brush their teeth after lunch and consider packing their lunch to help control their sugar intake.

Of course, you should also bring your child in for regular dental appointments. These visits help catch and prevent cavities as well as serve as educational opportunities for you and your child. We can also provide important services such as dental sealants which will help protect their teeth for years to come.

Helping Your Child Have Straighter Teeth

Every parent wants what’s best for their child, including straighter teeth. That’s why My Family Dentistry is proud to offer traditional braces and Invisalign to our patients. While a popular option for adults who want straighter teeth without braces, they’re also a popular option for older children.

Invisalign is a system of clear aligners that gradually straighten your teeth over time. They’re more comfortable and draw less attention than traditional metal braces, making them more appealing to adults and older children alike. They also have the added benefit of being removable, which makes brushing and flossing much easier.

Contact us today to learn more about traditional braces, Invisalign and other cosmetic dentistry options.

Overcoming Being Scared of the Dentist

Visiting the dentist can be scary regardless of your age. As a parent, you’re in the perfect position to help your child get over this fear and not be afraid of visiting the dentist. The best ways to help your child overcome their fear of the dentist is to:

  • Talk to them before their visit
  • Don’t pass your fears on to them
  • Bring distractions to the office
  • Read books about going to the dentist

You don’t need to go into major details, but talking to your child about what to expect can help alleviate fears that they have about visiting the dentist. You can also ask one of our dentists to talk to them about the different procedures. If you’re also scared of the dentist, try not to pass those fears along by avoiding discussing anything negative such as pain, needles or injections.

Bringing distractions such as your child’s favorite toy or game is a wonderful way to pass the time and keep their mind off the dentist’s chair. At My Family Dentistry, we have TVs in the waiting room to help keep them occupied until their appointment. It can also help to read books about visiting the dentist to help prepare your child for their visit.

As a parent, you want to provide your child with the best dental care possible. Knowing when to bring them in for their first appointment, what to expect, and cosmetic dentistry options are just a few wonderful ways to prepare yourself for caring for your child’s oral health.

Do you want a jump start on your child’s oral health? Contact us today to learn how we can help set them up for a lifetime of happy smiles.

We believe everyone deserves to have a smile they can be proud of, and we provide that to our patients using the latest techniques in comfortable dentistry. My Family Dentistry is open Monday through Thursday and every other Friday. Give us a call at (865) 947-6453 or you can schedule an appointment online

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