Most parents, if not all, become so stressed just at the thought of their child visiting the dentist. A lot of questions and worries are brought up: “When should I go? What should I tell my kid? How can I prepare him? Will it be painful?”
Please take a deep breath, calm down and read this article carefully. Today I will be answering all of your worries and questions. I will address the most common questions that I encounter almost every day in my clinic.
A paediatric dentist should know how to deal with the child according to his intellectual maturity level, in order to make him cooperative enough during his dental visit while simultaneously comforting the anxious parents and giving them the best available treatment options.
How to prepare your child for his/her first visit?
Nowadays, there are so many ways to entertain your child using the internet, where you can find fun educational videos, cartoons and dental songs. You can also use reading books about dentists. Give your child a role model his own age, like his friend or relative, to encourage him. If you as a parent are scared and stressed, try not to transfer these negative feelings to your child through words such as: pain, crying, tears, injection, needles, or shots. These words will stick in your child’s mind forever.
When should my child first see a paediatric dentist?
When your baby turns one, make sure to pay a visit to the dentist. This is important so that you check your baby’s teeth and their pattern of growth, and also for you as a parent to learn how to take care of your baby’s teeth.
What to expect on your child’s first dental visit?
The first dental visit should be a short introductory one, and the timing of the visit is crucial. Your child should not be tired—avoid bringing them right after training or school. Make sure that he/she takes a nap to decrease his/her anxiety and increase his/her cooperation level.
Your paediatric dentist should use the ‘tell, show and do’ technique, by which they explain to the child what they will be doing in a simple and accessible manner to build trust with the child and decrease his/her fear of the unknown.
The visit should include a good check-up, and x-rays if needed. Any unnecessary dental work should be avoided.
What is the importance of primary teeth?
Many parents have a very mistaken approach towards their children’s baby teeth, believing they are not important as will be replaced anyway. Actually, primary teeth are extremely important for many reasons:
- Aesthetics and good appearance, which in turn affects the child’s psychology in front of their peers at nursery or school.
- Food chewing and digestion: we cut and grind food with our teeth. In addition, digestion starts in the mouth with enzymes as salivary amylase, which breaks down the carbohydrates into simpler forms. Otherwise, your child will have digestive problems.
- Maintaining space for the permanent/successor teeth: if a primary tooth is prematurely lost and no intervention is done by the dentist, the space will be lost and later on the permanent tooth will not have a place to grow.
Make sure you brush your child’s teeth with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste as soon as his first tooth comes out, and visit your paediatric dentist twice a year.
Dr. Hend Khaled Samir is a Pediatric dentist, who is certified by the American Board, a pediatric preceptorship, UCLA, USA and a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.