Lots of people dread their dental visits, but going to the dentist can be especially daunting for kids who not only have never been, but have no idea what to expect. That’s why, according to Dr. Caytlin Eidson of Dental Depot in Tulsa, it’s important to help kids feel comfortable and confident about visiting the dentist because that can make all the difference in encouraging them to maintain proper oral hygiene for the rest of their lives.
At Dental Depot, we believe it takes teamwork to help your child achieve their best oral health, so we work with parents and guardians to help make sure you have the resources and support you need to help your child succeed in establishing good dental habits.
Kids have questions, especially about things they’ve never done before–like going to the dentist. Here are some of the most common questions kids have about oral hygiene and the dentist, as well as how you as their adult can help allay your child’s concerns and communicate the importance of regular dental care in a way that makes sense to them.
Depending on what you’re visiting the dentist for, you may feel some discomfort, but nothing should hurt. If you are going for a cleaning and regular checkup, it might feel funny when the hygienist brushes and flosses your teeth, or when the dentist feels your teeth, but it won’t hurt.
If you are going to have a problem fixed, like having a cavity filled or a tooth pulled, that won’t hurt either because dentists have lots of ways to help make sure you don’t feel anything while they do what they need to do. And, because dentists like Dr. Eidson are really good at what they do, there’s a good chance nothing will hurt afterward either. If it does, a little medicine can usually make it feel much better.
Yes, you really do have to brush your teeth every day, and ideally at least twice each day–once in the morning and once before you go to bed–for two minutes each time.
“Brushing your teeth is the best way to keep your teeth healthy and keep you from getting cavities,” says Dr. Eidson.
The reason is because whenever you eat or drink, some of the food or beverage sticks to your teeth. If you leave it there without brushing it off, it will start to damage the outside of your teeth, eventually creating a hole in the tooth called a cavity. Cavities can make your teeth hurt, and if they aren’t fixed, they can make your tooth sick enough that it has to be pulled out.
Dr. Eidson recommends using a toothpaste with a flavor you like and that has fluoride in it, and try not to eat or drink anything except water before you go to bed.
There is more to your teeth than the part you see when you smile. Just like food and drinks can stick to the front or bottom of your teeth, they can also get stuck in between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing helps remove anything from in between your teeth so it can’t cause cavities. It’s also a good idea to use a mouthwash or rinse with water to get anything out from in between your teeth.
Just like washing your hands with soap or your hair with shampoo, your teeth need help getting clean when you brush them. Toothpaste–especially toothpaste with fluoride–has ingredients that help remove sticky residue from your teeth and help your teeth stay strong, shiny, and healthy. Toothpastes come in lots of different flavors, so you can pick one you like and that’s more fun to use.
The first teeth you get as a kid are called baby teeth, and they’re meant to fall out. Everyone loses their baby teeth, but don’t worry–that’s just to make room for the bigger and stronger adult teeth you’ll have for the rest of your life. Most kids lose their first tooth at five or six years old and continue gradually losing teeth until they’re around 12.
However, everyone is different, so you may have some friends that lose teeth earlier or later. Some kids even need help losing teeth, because their baby teeth don’t want to come out, so the dentist will pull the baby teeth out to make room for the grown-up ones.
Yes, all kids will need to lose their primary teeth (those are your “baby” teeth). The reason is because your baby teeth are holding a spot for your adult teeth, the ones you get to keep forever. However, losing your teeth doesn’t really hurt because it takes a long time. As your grown-up teeth get ready to come in, the baby teeth slowly get a little looser until they’re ready to fall out. When it’s time, there isn’t much holding the baby tooth in, making it easy for it to fall out.
As your teeth fall out, new ones will grow in to take their place in the same spot. Losing teeth is normal and everyone loses teeth as a kid. You may look a little different for awhile as your baby teeth fall out and your adult teeth come in, but it isn’t forever, and eventually you will have all the same teeth as everyone else.
To set your kids up for the best dental health possible, it also helps to educate yourself on what they need, when they need it, and why. Here are 4 important tips so you can be more informed and confident when guiding your kids to good oral hygiene.
Decay is the most common dental problem for kids. The most frequent issue that kids face is decay for two reasons: first, they usually don’t have the patience or coordination to master proper brushing techniques, and, two, they are still consuming a lot of sugar, too often right before bed.
“Until a child can tie their shoes on their own, they do not have the necessary dexterity to brush their teeth completely on their own,” says Dr. Eidson. Fluoride treatments and regular cleanings can help fend off decay to some extent, but it’s important for parents to use fluoride toothpaste to brush their kids’ teeth every day. Dentists can also add sealants to children’s teeth. These plastic “covers” fill the deep grooves in a tooth to create a flatter surface that is easier to keep clean.
Baby the baby teeth. Just because your child’s primary (baby) teeth are going to fall out, doesn’t mean you can neglect them in the meantime. Primary teeth hold the spaces for adult teeth to erupt. If primary teeth are full of cavities and decay (or even if they have to be pulled or modified before they naturally fall out), this can impact the adult teeth behind them. Children with poor oral hygiene in their younger years often see worse dental outcomes later, typically from crooked and misaligned teeth or adult teeth that come in already suffering from decay that has traveled up into the socket. Your child will have their adult teeth for a lifetime, and they’re counting on you to set them up for success.
Don’t wait for the first dental visit. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children see a dentist within six months of the first tooth erupting or soon after their first birthday, whichever happens first. Even if it’s still too early for an actual cleaning, a visit now allows your child an opportunity to become familiar with the routine and environment of going to the dentist and allows the dentist to check for any potential problems before they happen.
Set the example. The most important thing that parents can do for their kids is model good dental practices, from good brushing and flossing habits to being excited about the dentist and visiting regularly. Dr. Eidson suggests brushing your teeth alongside your kids, and making sure to help them brush their own so they know what they are supposed to do.
If you’re nervous about the dentist yourself, it’s important you take your child anyway and stay as positive as possible.
“Kids can feel your feelings,” Dr. Eidson explains. “If you’re excited, your kid will be excited. If you are anxious, your kid will be anxious.”
If dental anxiety is keeping you from your optimal oral health, consider speaking with your own dentist about it. Not only can they provide you with tips and strategies for managing your nervousness, but it can also help you set the best possible example for your child.
Choose a dentist for the whole family. Another great way to get your child on the road to great dental health is choosing a dentist the whole family can visit, like Dental Depot in Tulsa. At a family dental office like Dental Depot, everyone in your family can receive the dental services they need at every stage of life, from first appointments to fillings, cleanings to braces, and everything in between, all at one familiar location.
Since 1978, Dental Depot has been providing patients of all ages with exceptional dental care for every stage of life. As part of a comprehensive network, Dental Depot offers patients access to specialists like oral surgeons, orthodontists, pediatric dentists, and periodontal experts, in addition to a friendly team of experienced dentists and dental hygienists. What’s more, Dental Depot provides dental care that fits both your schedule and your budget, with flexible scheduling and Saturday appointments as well as adjustable payment plans. We accept most major dental insurances and we’re always accepting new patients.
Help your child take charge of their oral health and schedule an appointment with Dental Depot in Tulsa today!