At Discovery Kids Pediatric Dentistry, we strive to keep our patients as informed as possible. Below are some of the most common questions we receive along with their answers.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children should go to the dentist when they turn 1 or when their first tooth comes in, whichever comes first. We typically start to see children around 12-18 months.
A family dentist can take care of your child’s teeth, but a pediatric dentist provides specialized care. It’s similar to taking your child to a pediatrician instead of a regular doctor.
Pediatric dentists treat children from younger than one up to college age.
Children should see the dentist twice a year, or every six months for cleanings. Regular trips make sure your child’s teeth are developing correctly and any other issues can be addressed.
Tooth brushing should start when your child’s first tooth comes through. You can use a clean, damp washcloth or finger to gently wipe clean the tooth after meals and before bed.
Dental anxiety in children is the fear of going to the dentist. Dental fear and anxiety (DFA) is one of the most challenging aspects of pediatric dentistry.
About 9% of children experience dental anxiety. It’s important for dentists to have a friendly relationship with kids to combat these fears to have a safe and effective appointment.
Kids are afraid of the dentist for many reasons like the setting, being unprepared, dental materials, pop culture, drill noises, and socioeconomic factors. Children might have had a bad first dental experience as well.
There are many ways you can help your child with dental anxiety including going to a pediatric dentist because they are specialists in kids’ dental health. Explain to your child how important seeing the dentist is and let them know that you’ll be there the whole time. Tell your child that the dentist isn’t scary and show pictures of the dentist and the office. A post appointment reward, bringing their favorite toys, and even feeding them before the appointment are all ways to help children with dental anxiety.
Prepare your child for their first dentist appointment by showing your excitement. Even if you aren’t a fan of the dentist, don’t let it show. Another way to prepare is to take your child to the dentist’s office ahead of time so they become familiar with the staff and environment. It’s also important to schedule your kid’s first appointment at a time when they’re usually in a good mood, like after a nap or meal. Dental-themed activities and showing their favorite character brushing his/her teeth are other good ideas.
A lot of pediatric offices will allow you to schedule a tour in the weeks or days ahead of the appointment so your child can feel more comfortable. It’s important to discuss your child’s needs and challenges with the staff. You can also break the process into steps like visiting the dentist’s office, meet the front desk staff, sit in the dental chair, and go home with a prize. Other ideas include:
- Rewards for cooperative dental behavior
- Periodic breaks during the dental exam
- Systematic desensitization procedures
- Providing distraction stimuli
- Mock dental exams at home using similar tools, lighting, sounds, and a reclining chair
Dentists should develop treatments that are the same or adapted for children with Down syndrome. Kids with Down syndrome should be taught proper oral hygiene and receive fluoride and sealant treatments as necessary. Dental anxiety might be an issue so it’s important to coordinate medical and dental care. These children should start seeing the dentist no later than their first birthday.
All children, including those with autism, should have their first dental exam when their first tooth breaks through or by age 1.
If you have a different question or concern, don’t hesitate to contact us. One of our team members will be happy to help!