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Archive for March 2014

How Parents Can Help Kids Overcome Fear of the Dentist

How Parents Can Help Kids Overcome Fear of the Dentist

Despite the rumors, most adults are not afraid of going to the dentist. For adults, visiting the dentist is a necessary part of a healthy life. Children, however, do not have the same experience and familiarity with the dentist, as adults do. To children, the dentist is an unknown. Most children (and adults for that matter) have a fear of the unknown.

To Children The Dentist Might Equal Pain

Whether they have seen their parents experiencing discomfort after a major dental procedure, or they have experienced the pain of a cavity themselves, many children associate the dentist with pain. Pain hurts, and human beings will avoid it at all costs. Many children are also unable to differentiate between going to the dentist and going to the doctor, where they may have been given shots/vaccinations or experienced discomfort.

Here are some tips for parents to help children overcome their fear of the dentist.

  • Model Correct Behavior

    • The next time you have a routine appointment with the dentist, take your child with you. Have your child observe the entire process. Explain to your child what the dentist is doing, as the dentist is doing it. Make sure the child sees that a routine trip to the dentist is pain-free. Afterwards, make sure your child is aware of how amazing your newly cleaned teeth feel and how happy you are to have healthy teeth and gums.
  • Read Dentist Stories to Your Children

Going to the Dentist

    • There are numerous children’s books available that portray visiting the dentist in a fun, inviting, and colorful way. Children’s stories about visiting the dentist will put the dentist and the whole visit in terms that a child can relate to. When the stories portray the dentist as being fun and exciting, then the child will believe that about the dentist as well.
  • Pretend Play

    • Role playing with your children is a great way to have them experience what it will be like at the dental office. You can create a fictitious dental office in your house with a chair, fake instruments, and all. You can be as elaborate with it, as you want to be. Take turns with your child pretending to be the dentist and patient. Pretend to check your child’s teeth, diagnose cavities on x-rays, and talk to your child about their teeth brushing and flossing habits. When the visit is over, and your child was a good patient, you can even give him/her a sugar-free sucker.
  • Bring Your Child’s Favorite Toy

    • Talk to the dentist ahead of time to make sure it is OK for you to be with your child throughout their appointment. Keep the mood in the room light, humorous, and fun. Bring your child’s favorite toy or stuffed animal, as long as it does not get in the way of the dentist being able to perform the necessary work. If a child has a parent and his/her favorite toy alongside, they are much more likely to feel safe and unafraid.
  • Tell Them How Great They Are Doing

    • Parents can use positive reinforcement to help their children be less fearful of the dentist. While at the dental office, be sure to consistently give your child encouragement and positive affirmations like: “You are doing a great job”, or “You are awesome for being so brave.” Before the visit, you may feel it appropriate to incentivize your child to be unafraid of the dentist by promising them a movie or a toy for being a good patient.

For most adults, visiting the dentist has become routine, and it is not event to be afraid of. For children, it is a different story. Adults sometimes forget that most of life’s experiences are new to children, and the unknown can cause fear. The main ways parents can help their children overcome a fear of the dentist is to be models of proper behavior and make the dentist as fun of an experience for their children as possible.

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Signs Your Child Should See a Dentist

Signs Your Child Should See a Dentist

Watching your child’s teeth come in can be an exciting time for parents. But, keeping all those teeth healthy can be more challenging than enjoyable. For knowing when to bring your youngster into the dentist and tips on how to keep your child’s teeth clean, read on:

When Should My Child First See a Dentist?

A child should first see a dentist when they have teeth, or by the age of one. When you do decide to take your child to a dentist, opt for a pediatric dentist or a dentist that also specializes in family care.

After your child’s first dental appointment, you should follow up care with regular dentists appointments. If you notice any of the following symptoms or problems with your child’s teeth, you should schedule a dentist appointment:

  • Pocked, pitted or discolored teeth;
  • Complaints from your child about tooth pain;
  • Discolored or swollen gums;
  • White spots on teeth;
  • Unusually persistent bad breath;
  • Sensitivity to touch or temperature; or
  • If your child hasn’t been brushing regularly and/or frequently consumes sugary foods or beverages.

As your child ages, it’s likely that your dentist will also suggest that your child sees an orthodontist for further oral care and assessment.

How Do I Prevent My Child From Getting Cavities?

Smiling Child

Oral health is all about prevention. Therefore, keeping your child’s mouth healthy can be as simple as scheduling regular dentist checkups, brushing three times a day, and flossing.

For infants or toddlers who are too young to use toothpaste, you should wipe down the gums and teeth of your child with a wet cloth after feeding. Tooth decay and rot can be caused from the milk that your child drinks. If your child has teeth, choosing a toothpaste with fluoride and that is kid-friendly is an important part of establishing a healthy brushing routine.

You can also ask your dentist about other prevention techniques, such as applying a sealant or resin to teeth to help prevent against cavities, particularly in molars.

As a parent, it is also your responsibility to monitor the consumption of foods and drinks that are high in sugar. Sugar is the main culprit of tooth decay. Preventing tooth decay by watching the levels of sugar that your child eats can help save painful, expensive, and inconvenient oral care expenditures in the future.

How Do I Promote Oral Hygiene at Home?

Going to the dentist can often by a scary experience for children, especially when they’re very young. Make dentist visits seem more exciting by following up the dentist’s office with a special treat, like a trip to a restaurant or toy store. To promote healthy habits while at home and to make brushing more fun, let your child pick out their own toothbrush and have rewards or incentives that are associated with regular brushing.

Remember, the earlier you start enforcing good habits and the earlier you introduce dental care into your child’s life, the easier it will be for your child to implement and continue habits on their own. If your child is approaching the age of one and hasn’t yet seen a dentist, or if they are experiencing any of the oral complications listed above, schedule an appointment immediately.

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