The Abilene Family Dentistry team knows parenting is equal parts rewarding and exhausting—most of us have kids ourselves, so we know how much effort it takes to keep kids healthy and happy—and everyone from mommy blogs to mothers-in-law has opinions on where parents are falling short. Are the kids eating a balanced diet? Getting enough sleep? Of course, brushing and flossing regularly needs to be part of the daily to-do list. Below, Abilene dentists Dr. Webb and Dr. Awtrey answers a few of the most common questions we hear from parents of young kids.
Question: When should my child go to the dentist for the first time?
Answer: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a child’s first dental appointment happen before age one. But, if your child is already two or three and they haven’t been to the dentist yet, don’t worry–just make the appointment as soon as possible. If you missed the official window, the best thing you can do it take them in now.
Question: Should I find a pediatric dentist, or can I take my child to my regular dental provider?
Answer: There is no absolute right answer here. If you have a great relationship with your dentist and they see children your child’s age, you can try it out and see how it goes. However, there are benefits to seeing a pediatric dentist, such as:
Pediatric dentists have extended education in caring for children’s oral health, including the psychological and developmental health of children.
Pediatric dentists use child-sized equipment (x-rays and drills) specifically made for children’s teeth.
Pediatric dentists chose to work with kids, so you can be confident they want to work with little ones.
Pediatric offices are typically more child-friendly, often providing age-appropriate activities, fun rewards for good behavior, and other amenities designed for children.
Pediatric dental teams are trained on how to communicate with children and parents. For example, instead of saying plaque or bacteria, they may say ‘tooth bugs’ so children better understand what is going on.
Question: I can’t get my kids to brush and floss like they are supposed to…and I’m at the end of my rope, what can I do?
Answer: Take a deep breath! Resistance to brushing and flossing is a normal part of being a kid. These days, there are some fun and engaging ways to encourage good oral hygiene. Try a few and see what sticks:
Shop for a fun toothbrush and new toothpaste.
Make oral hygiene into a fun game. Let them earn points or stars that lead to a reward. Or, find a free dental app to help gamify the experience, such as a toothbrush timer or a YouTube video.
Pair the activities with something they already do. Have them brush and floss in the shower or while they watch TV.
Set a reminder or an alarm on their phone or have a fun timer to set.
Brush and floss with them–make up silly songs and dances!
Question: My child has a cavity in a baby tooth – can’t we just pull it? It’s going to fall out anyway.
Answer: Baby teeth, or primary teeth, are more important to the long-term growth and development of your child than you may realize. Baby teeth assist in chewing healthy foods, speech development, and proper growth and structure of the jaw.
Keeping kids’ teeth healthy isn’t easy. Kids can be stubborn and strong-willed, and it’s hard not to feel like a failure if they aren’t cooperating. However, there are resources available to you to help. First, ask Dr. Webb or Dr. Awtrey for advice. If you don’t know how to handle something or notice your child having issues, don’t hesitate to ask. Think of the Abilene Family Dentistry team as your cheerleaders when it comes to your child’s oral health. If you don’t know how to handle something or notice your child having issues, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re here for you!
“The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.”
*Dr. Webb and Dr. Awtrey are general dentists providing pediatric services.