6 Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome a Fear of the Dentist

Many kids are afraid of going to the dentist. Whether it’s the fear of the unknown, or perhaps a previous bad experience, the anxiety can make the experience uncomfortable for everyone involved. However, most of these fears are unfounded, and there are steps you can take to help your child overcome a fear of the dentist and ensure their next  visit goes as smoothly as possible.

1). Begin Good Oral Hygiene Early at Home – From the time they are infants, you should begin cleaning your child’s mouth and gums. Then as toddlers you can teach them to brush properly and consistently. They’ll get used to the idea of cleaning their mouth and learn that good dental habits are important.

2). Schedule First Dental Exam Early — The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children visit the dentist when they get their first tooth or by age one. The dentist will do a short exam and answer any questions, and most importantly it gets the child used to it so the dentist won’t seem so strange or scary down the line.

3). See a Pediatric Dentist – Pediatric dentists specialize in working with kids, so they know what to look for and are used to childhood anxiety. They’re experts at dealing with it, and will be as patient and gentle as possible. Also, many pediatric dentists have offices to make the visit fun including games, toys, prizes or even video games while they wait.

4). Prepare Beforehand – It often helps to talk about the visit beforehand – but remember to stay positive. It may help to read a book together (most local libraries have several children’s books on the topic). You can also role play, and let them practice on the “patient,” which can be a doll, stuffed animal, Buzz Lightyear or even you! Listen to your child and don’t dismiss their fears, but remain upbeat and use positive terms such as healthy teeth, happy smile, etc. Avoid scary sounding terms such as pain, hurt, shot or drill.

5). Set A Good Example – Children often follow their parent’s lead, so if you have fears or avoid the dentist that can easily rub off on them. However, if they see you placing a high importance on taking care of your teeth and talking positively about the dentist they’ll realize it’s not so scary after all.

6). Make Them Comfortable During the Visit – If your child has a favorite book or stuffed animal it doesn’t hurt to bring it along for comfort. Or if your son really wants to wear his Spiderman pajamas, why not let him?  I promise the dentist doesn’t care (at least ours doesn’t 🙂 – anything to help the child feel safe and familiar.

Remember that regular exams are important, and with time and patience children can learn to overcome their fears.  Come see us soon and continue having a great summer!

Mouth Guards in Sports – Does My Child Really Need One?

The short answer: yes.

Particularly in high contact sports, mouth guards are a necessary piece of equipment. They protect the teeth and can prevent injury to the lips, cheeks and gums.

Just as a helmet protects the brain and padding protects the bones, mouth guards play an important role in keeping children safe during sports. In fact, The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety states that an athlete is 60 more times likely to sustain damage to the teeth when not wearing a protective mouth guard.

Mouth guard use isn’t always enforced, but it should be. The Dental Association recommends wearing custom mouth guards for a variety of sports including football, basketball, boxing, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball, soccer, skateboarding and many others.

Not only are mouth injuries painful for children, but there are often accompanied by emotional or financial ramifications as well. A permanent tooth that gets knocked out doesn’t grow back. When a kid’s smile is forever altered it can be hard for him or her to accept and adjust. And the cost of dental repairs for broken or knocked out teeth far outweighs the cost of a mouth guard. It’s much better to prevent the injury in the first place.

There are several types of mouth guards available. Ready-made options can be purchased at sporting goods stores, while custom fit mouth guards can be made by dentists. The custom made versions provide the best fit and offer the best protection, because they are made from an impression of the mouth. They also tend to be more comfortable than the stock ones, so kids are more inclined to wear them.

Just like all sports equipment, mouth guards can wear out over time. Also, it’s important to remember that kids’ mouths are still growing and teeth shifting, so be sure to have his or her mouth guard checked regularly for proper fit

Most parents don’t think twice about enforcing a helmet or padding, but the mouth guard should be a necessary part of that uniform, too. Nobody wants to deal with mouth injuries that could have been prevented by wearing the proper equipment.

Now, get out and play!

 

Smart Snacking for Your Smile

Snacking is a part of life for kids, and it has many overall health and nutritional benefits. However, too much of the wrong types of snacks can damage their teeth. There are two important things to keep in mind when choosing snacks: type and frequency. It’s important to make smart choices to reduce the risk of tooth decay and promote a healthy smile.

Types of Snacks

Most people understand that certain foods are better for your teeth than others. Not surprisingly, most of the foods that are good for your dental health are good for your overall physical health as well. Fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products including milk and cheese, grains and meats such as chicken or turkey are smart choices for good oral hygiene. On the flip side, sugary treats such as candy, honey and caramel stick to the teeth and can lead to tooth decay. So whenever possible, it’s important to choose healthy, non-sugary snacks. Of course that’s not realistic all the time. Sweets are fine every now and then, but should be chosen selectively and always followed by a thorough tooth-brushing.

Frequency

Just as the type of snacks you eat have an impact on your dental health, the frequency of eating these snacks also plays a major role. You may think you’re showing willpower by making that Snickers bar last all day long, but nibbling on a candy bar for hours is actually worse for your teeth than eating it all at once. The reason?  The sugar stays in your mouth longer, which produces acids that then sit on your teeth all day. The same concept applies to lollipops and other candies designed to last a long time. So if you just have to have that candy bar (no judgment here, we understand), just eat it, enjoy it, then brush your teeth and move on.

Making smart snacking choices not only benefits your teeth, but it can benefit your overall physical and emotional health as well. And that’s something to smile about.

What Is A Pediatric Dentist?

A pediatric dentist is a dentist that treats kids! That’s the simple explanation.

To be more formal, you could say the following: pediatric dentists are dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teen years.

Pediatric dentists have the experience and qualifications necessary to understand and care for a child’s teeth and gums through the various early stages of their life. Additionally, pediatric dentists are equipped to handle children who may not be cooperative during an oral exam.

Children start to get their teeth at different times, but it could be as early as six months. Children then start to lose their initial, baby teeth around 6 or 7 years of age. Those teeth are replaced by their permanent teeth.

If children do not receive proper dental care, they could face oral decay and possibly disease that can cause a lifetime of pain and complications. So, get your children checked out by a dentist regularly and if you want someone with specific experience and expertise for children, find a pediatric dentist!