Bug had her second ever appointment at the dentist recently. As I expected, everything was fantastic and she had no sugar bugs! I am very fortunate to have a child who LOVES to brush her teeth… often. Her first visit was around her first birthday, and she let the dentist brush her teeth with a regular tooth brush and (albeit briefly) visually examine her teeth and gums. This time, she let the assistant brush with the toothbrush (she was amazing and pretty much gave her a sticker after every couple of teeth). She even let her use the polisher for about 6 or 7 of her front teeth. HUGE steps in the right direction, if you ask me. When the dentist came in, she let her take a peek inside and showed off her pearly whites. She even let her apply the fluoride varnish with only one or two tears.
Bug and I talked a lot about the dentist and her name leading up to the appointment. When I brushed her teeth with her, I made sure she knew that Dr. Jennifer was going to ask her to do the same things mommy does and she’s going to make sure her teeth sparkle! I let her know that if she was extra good, we would go to Target after and she could pick out a special treat. (Zero shame in bribing my child) When we got to Target afterwards, she told everyone in line and the clerk checking us out that she just went to the dentist and gave them a wide smile.
I want to take a couple moments to give you some food for thought on your child’s oral health. It is so important to start early with the dentist. There are so many dentists who will see children, but so many more pediatric specialist offices that really make the experience fun for your child (and for you). I think it is also important to not create a stigma about the dentist (or any doctor visit) based on any bad experience you, as the parent, may have or have had. We shape our children’s view of the world, and if you bad mouth any medical/dental professional before your child has had a chance to meet them, you could be planting a seed that will make their ability to help and treat your child impossible.
From my experience working with dental specialists over the last few years is that they aren’t trying to fight you or shame you on how to take care of your child. They are trying to educate you in the best manner they know how. (I love my teams, but sometimes I think they forget that they are in dental all day every day, and patients are in dental for about 4 minutes per day and the once a year they come into the office) Please keep an open mind!
A common misstep I have seen in the dental field is parents not monitoring how their child is brushing their teeth. Sure, they may be doing it… but are they doing it right? It’s important that they are brushing in tiny circles with a soft bristled toothbrush, and not just chewing on the brush or sliding it back and forth on their teeth. If your child has contacts, flossing is going to be tougher, but teaching them to put the floss in a “C” shape and sliding it up and down the sides of each tooth. It is recommended that parents supervise their tooth brushing at least twice per day until they are 7 or 8 years old!
My daughter has recently found this video on YouTube and I think it is a great one for the littles:
Another topic I don’t wish to cause drama on, but please consider a fluoride toothpaste to help restore the vitamins and minerals that sugary kids foods eat away.
I actually was guilty of this common no-no for babies: don’t let them fall asleep with the bottle in their mouth. The sugars in milk/formula will sit on the teeth for an extended period of time and really start to create trouble for those little baby teeth. It took a couple weeks to correct the behavior, but I think the education on it was something I hadn’t thought of until someone told me!
It was recommended to me to start the habits of good oral health before those little chompers even saw the light of the sun. Let them gnaw on a wet washcloth to help wipe away food particles and bacteria at the gums and keep it on a routine.
My last little PSA is please, please, do not say “They are baby teeth, they’ll just fall out” if your little has a baby tooth diagnosed with decay and it needs treatment. That decay is deeper than that baby tooth and can affect the adult tooth trying to develop underneath the gums! Please don’t set your child up for a lifetime of failure because, trust me, children’s dental care is costly. It is mentally and financially exhausting. There are so many clinics out there that have financial assistance or flexible payment options. Don’t be ashamed to ask family or friends to help if you are in a pinch and something emergent arises!!