It is one of the most special experiences in the world to witness your child growing up, but watching their teeth grow and develop can often be stressful. It can be hard as a new parent to know what is normal and how to best support your child’s oral health. In this article, let’s look at a few quick pointers on how to protect your child’s oral health.
Know when to come in for their first appointment
There are no hard and fast rules about this, and every parent and child are different, but it is generally advised by your Dentist that you bring your child in as their baby teeth start to show or when they reach the age of 12 to 24 months. However, if you notice something unusual or worthy of attention prior to that point, it is definitely valuable and okay to bring your child into the dentist.
What dental issues to watch out for in young children?
Being young and unaware, it can be easy for children to fall into bad dental habits. One of these may be thumb sucking, which can affect the structure of the teeth and jaws. Your Orthodontist will be able to provide advice on minimising this behaviour, and similar behaviours.
- Tooth Decay: Young children are susceptible to tooth decay, commonly known as cavities. This can be due to factors like sugary diets, inadequate oral hygiene, or prolonged use of bottles or sippy cups. Regular dental check-ups and promoting proper brushing habits help prevent and address tooth decay.
- Early Loss of Baby Teeth: Premature loss of primary (baby) teeth, whether due to decay or injury, can lead to alignment issues with permanent teeth. Monitoring dental development and seeking timely intervention if teeth are lost prematurely are essential for preventing future complications.
- Thumb Sucking: Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use can impact the alignment of teeth and the development of the jaw. It’s important to encourage the cessation of these habits to prevent potential orthodontic issues.
- Teething Discomfort: Teething can cause discomfort in infants and toddlers. Providing teething rings, gentle gum massages, or approved teething gels can help alleviate their discomfort during this natural developmental stage.
- Malocclusion: Malocclusion, or improper bite alignment, can affect speech development and oral function. Monitoring the alignment of teeth and jaw development is crucial, and orthodontic evaluation may be necessary if issues arise.
- Gingivitis: Early signs of gum inflammation, known as gingivitis, may appear in children. This is often due to inadequate brushing. Encouraging proper oral hygiene practices and regular dental check-ups can help prevent and manage gingivitis.
- Accidents and Injuries: Children are prone to accidents, and dental injuries can occur. Falls or sports-related incidents may lead to chipped or fractured teeth. Seeking prompt dental attention in case of an injury is essential for preserving dental health.
- Oral Hygiene Education: Teaching young children proper oral hygiene practices is crucial. Parents should assist with brushing until children can do it effectively themselves. Emphasizing the importance of regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental check-ups establishes a foundation for lifelong oral health.
An issue commonly affecting young children is tooth decay. It is harder to observe a proper dental hygiene technique for a young child, and at the same time, children are prone to enjoying sugar, and they also have softer material making up their teeth, making them less strong. Tooth decay can lead to cavities.
Other issues that children commonly encounter include dental trauma or damage due to accidents during play, teething issues, and irregular bite (this refers to how the upper and bottom rows of teeth match up).
How can I prepare my child for the visit to the dentist?
It is natural for children to experience some anxiety about the orthodontist. For them, it is a strange experience at a new place with a person they do not know. However, children can also pick up on your anxiety as a parent and the way you talk about teeth. It is important to be a positive role model. You should never use a trip to the dentist as a threat against your child and you should talk in terms that can be easily understood by your child. Mentioning the tooth fairy may help!
Getting your child ready for a orthodontist visit is important for a happy experience. Start by talking about the dentist as a friend who helps keep their teeth healthy. Read books or watch videos about dentist visits together, so it’s not scary. If possible, visit the dental office before the appointment to make it familiar.
You can also play pretend orthodontist at home with your child, using a toothbrush. Give them praise and rewards for being brave. Choosing a orthodontist who is good with kids can make the visit more fun. Remember, it’s about making the dentist a friendly place so that your child feels comfortable and not scared.
Finding a family-friendly dentist in Sydney’s Inner West!
Just like no two children are the same, no two dentists are the same. It is valuable to do some research to determine which tooth doctor may be able to best support your child, because some no gap dentists may specialise in children’s dentistry while others do not.
Talk to Haberfield Dental Practice for best suggestions.