You wake up in the morning and give your teeth a good brushing, and you do the same thing every night. Perhaps you even floss daily, which is more than nearly 70% of adults can say! At this point, you have your oral health under control, but what about your kids?
Whether you have a new infant or multiple teenagers, there are a few things you should know about their teeth. Aside from brushing and flossing, you also have to take them to the dentist twice a year for routine checkups and cleanings. Here’s what you should know before making an appointment.
1. Going to the Dentist Can Be Scary
Some people don’t mind going to the dentist, and a select few might even enjoy it. After all, you do emerge with a cleaner, brighter smile, so what’s not to love? Well, if you’re one of those moms who dreads her dentist appointments, you’re already well aware. First off, you have to lie back in a chair and let some stranger peer inside your mouth. And what are all those drills and tiny tools for, anyway? Maybe you’ve even experienced some physical pain and discomfort during a visit.
Now just imagine how frightened your little ones might feel during their appointments. Whether or not you can relate to their fears, you can at least empathize with them. Encourage them to be brave and remind them that there’s nothing to be afraid of as long as they take good care of their teeth. These gentle reminders might even encourage them to improve their oral hygiene, which is a major win for both parents and kids.
2. Early and Routine Visits are Key
The best way to get your kids used to the dentist is to take them early and often. Babies should have their first visit by the time they’re a year old or whenever their first tooth appears, whichever comes first. Then, they should continue to see their dentist at least once every six months so they can receive regular dental care.
Exposing your little ones to the dentist’s office from a very early age can help them overcome any fears they might have. Many professionals even offer prizes or treats for kids who emerge with no cavities or infections, which can make appointments fun and make going back seem less scary.
3. Dentists Can Help with Tongue or Lip Ties
If your baby is struggling to latch and breastfeed, a tongue or lip tie could be to blame. A lip tie is a condition where the skin of the upper lip attaches to the gums and can prevent lip movement. A tongue-tie is very similar but involves the skin between the tongue and floor of the mouth. If these ties are too severe to work around with positioning, a dentist can help.
They’ll perform a laser treatment called a frenotomy to separate the tie and improve their ability to breastfeed. The procedure can also make it easier to swallow and speak, especially as they grow. Talk to your pediatric dentist to receive a diagnosis and determine whether a frenotomy is the right choice for you and your baby.
4. Tooth Reattachment is Possible
Practically every mom’s been there. Your little ones are playing outside and all of a sudden you hear a loud noise, followed by crying. They come dashing through the front door with a bloody mouth — and missing teeth. Don’t panic! If it’s an adult tooth, the dentist may be able to reattach it and save their smile. You just need to find the fragments and bring them with you to the emergency appointment.
If the bone around the tooth isn’t fractured, the root will usually reattach to the bone in a few weeks. Odds are the dentist will need to splint the tooth to the ones beside it to promote a quicker reattachment and stronger bond. In the meantime, don’t let your child bite down on any hard or super chewy foods that could break the temporary bridge and disrupt healing.
5. They Can Help Break Bad Habits
It’s completely normal for babies and even toddlers to suck their thumb or a pacifier to self-soothe. However, once their teeth come in, this habit can cause problems by impacting tooth alignment and palette shape. If you notice it becoming a problem, a dentist may be able to offer advice on weaning them off.
Dental professionals can also help your kids nix bad habits like skipping flossing or toothbrushing and eating sweets. They’re used to little kids with cravings and will likely have plenty of ideas for helping them develop a more consistent oral hygiene routine.
During your children’s first few years of life, you’ll be the sole caretaker of their teeth. Therefore, you must take initiative in wiping gums, brushing teeth, and promoting good dental hygiene. As your kids grow, they’ll expect you to model the same behavior. Remember to set a good example by keeping up with brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist, too. If you take initiative and set a good example, they’re sure to develop good habits to last a lifetime.