Have you ever been to a meeting that you felt completely unprepared for? Well, that’s the last thing you should feel when you take your child to a pediatric dentist. We asked our amazing staff of pediatric dentists and pediatric orthodontists what they wish every parent knew before coming into the dental office. Here are the top 6 things they unanimously agreed on.
How to recognize tooth pain in younger children
Younger kids deal with things like anxiety, stress or pain very differently than adults do. How you react to tooth pain can be very different to how your child reacts. More often than not, when there is tooth pain, a child won’t try to hide it. At the same time, especially if it’s a new experience, they won’t proactively tell a parent about it either. If you notice any of the following behaviors, it might be time to start asking your child if they have tooth pain or book an appointment with a pediatric dentist:
- Decreased appetite (especially for foods they normally enjoy)
- Frequent holding or rubbing of the jaw line
- Increased chewing
- Disrupted sleep schedule
- Increased tooth sensitivity
2. Proper brushing technique
One of the only ways your child will develop a good brushing habit is if they see you doing it first. Have them brush with you at the same times of day that you brush. One of the things most parents overlook is that kids don’t need as much toothpaste as adults. The more teeth you have the more toothpaste you need and vice versa. Here are the most important things to remember when teaching your child proper brushing technique:
- Strokes should be about as long as a tooth
- Don’t press the bristles down on the tooth too hard. Treat it like a polishing rather than a scrubbing
- Make sure each tooth gets a few brushes.
- Brush the tongue from back to front.
3. Try not to project your fears of the dentist onto your kids
This is another monkey see, monkey do principle. If you are afraid of the dentist, your children will be afraid of the dentist. Here is what our owner and Head of Pediatric Dentistry Dr. Adam Shepherd had to say about the importance of parents putting on a brave face:
“We know a lot of parents have had bad experiences at the dentist either from their childhood or as adults. I wish that I could take those experiences away from parents for the sake of their kids. The best possible scenario is for you and your child’s dentist to be a unified, positivity focused team. Even if you are a little nervous to be in a dentist’s office, it makes the process so much more enjoyable for the child if you set those fears aside. If you want, talk to us about your fears. We’re here to help.”
4. When and when not to sedate
At Pediatric Smiles, we take a careful approach to sedation. When it comes to their kids’ dental care, a lot of parents have concerns about the effects of sedation. The reality is that just because an adult may need sedation in a specific situation doesn’t mean that a child will need sedation for that same situation.
Unfortunately, many dentists who aren’t specifically trained in pediatric dentistry recommend aggressive sedation procedures when they don’t need to. Our dentists are specifically trained for these types of situations. When it comes to sedation, our pediatric dentists stick to one primary rule: the less sedation, the better.
Learn more about Pediatric Smiles Smart Step Sedation by watching the video below:
5. How to recognize if your child needs braces
We know that braces can be an expensive investment. That’s why our “Every Child Smiles” policy was created. To make braces affordable for as many families as possible. Will every child need braces? Not necessarily. Here are a few things to look for that might be signs that you child may need braces:
- Habitual thumb or finger sucking
- Frequent biting of the inner cheek
- Late, early or irregular loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty chewing
- Pronounced under or overbite.
- Speech difficulty (listen for whistling or slurred words)
If you recognize any of those signs in your child, call us and schedule an examination with one of our pediatric orthodontists.
6. How to prepare your child to see pediatric dentists
Believe it or not, lots of kids come to the dentist’s office and have no idea what to expect when it comes to an examination. “What? Why do I need to open my mouth?” Parents preparing their kids for what to expect can often mean the difference between a good visit and a bad visit. Many of our staff members are parents too. Here is a short list of helpful tips on how to best prepare your child to see the dentist.
- Practice, practice, practice: Practice opening wide in the mirror. When they nail down opening wide, take their tooth brush and gently place it on their inner cheek while they keep their mouth open.
- Show your child a picture of their dentist: Stranger danger is real. If your child recognizes the face of their dentist when they arrive, they have a much better chance of getting comfortable during an examination.
- Visit the office before your scheduled appointment: New places can be scary for kids. If you visit the office before your appointment, they will be more comfortable when they come back for the actual exam.
- Read a book about going to the dentist: Books can help prepare kids for new experiences in wonderful ways. Here are 3 books we recommend
- Just Going to the Dentist (Little Critter) – By Mercer Mayer
- The Night Before the Dentist – By Natasha Wing
- Daniel Goes to the Dentist (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) – Alexandra Cassel Schwartz