When it’s finally time for your little one to make their first trip to the dentist, where do you book them? Would you take them to the same dentist you go to?
If your answer is yes, like many parents, you’ve probably never heard of pediatric dentists before, or there’s not one near your area.
Well, if you’ve got kids and never considered pediatric dentists before for some reason, here are the things you should know:
- Pediatric Dentists Are Different From Family Dentists
Most families take their children to family dentists, which are similar to general dentists. Family and general dentists can provide a wider range of services, but although they can handle patients of all ages in general, they sometimes have restrictions with the age of their patients, especially when they’re young children and if their case is more unique or complicated.
Pediatric dentists, unlike general dentistry practitioners, spend an additional two to three years of school and training. Their type of work is on the same level as dental specialists like orthodontists and endodontists. Specifically, they’re trained to understand and manage children’s behavior, including those with special needs.
Their specialisation also allows them to efficiently identify and treat dental health issues that are unique to children. In simpler terms, taking your child to a pediatric dentist is the same as choosing a pediatrician over a general physician.
- Pediatric Dentistry Is Designed To Be Child-Friendly
If you’ve been to a pediatric dental clinic before, you’ll see a big difference in the office setup alone. Unlike regular dental clinics, pediatric dental clinics are built to appeal to children of all ages.
You’ll often see walls painted with colorful cartoon characters, toys, books, and even art materials, which all help to replace their fear with interest and excitement. Some pediatric dentists even reward kids with prizes or treats after their procedure.
The usual dental procedures and techniques are also adjusted to suit children’s dental anatomy and ideally include more options that are kid-friendly. For example, the use of pediatric laser dentistry which makes a lot of the usual dental procedure safer, less invasive, less bloody, less painful, and with faster recovery periods. Of course, this also means less stress and anxiety for children.
Laser dental procedures can be used in most routine procedures such as finding cavities, treating sensitive teeth, reshaping gum tissue, and applying dental fillings, among others. They also help in minimising the need for anesthesia and sutures. How cool is that?
- Pediatric Dentists Help Children Develop Proper Oral Health Habits At An Early Stage
Parents often find it difficult to encourage their children to develop healthy dental habits. If you’re like most parents who have a hard time training their children with proper dental care, pediatric dentists can help.
Do you notice how children tend to listen more to professional authorities, like their teachers or police officers? Dentists will have the same effect on your children when it comes to educating them about the importance of good oral health habits.
Moreover, pediatric dentists will be more than willing to discuss with you all the important things you need to know about your child’s dental health, especially if you’re a first-time parent.
Here are some pediatric dentist-friendly reminders to help parents look after their children’s teeth:
- As soon as the first tooth erupts, start brushing your baby’s teeth and gums by wiping them with a clean washcloth or use a soft infant toothbrush.
- Ease your child’s pain during the teething months by letting your little one gnaw on a cold teething ring or a cold, damp flannel.
- Never talk about negative dentist experiences with your child or talk too much about dental visits to avoid triggering stress.
- One effective way to let your child better understand how a dental visit goes is through role-playing. On one of their playtimes, be the dentist and help set proper expectations for dental visits so they don’t get scared when it’s time to see the dentist.
- Pediatric Dentists Help Children Overcome Their Fear Of Dentists
As much as possible, parents want to avoid their young children to fear dentists or experience a traumatic dental visit that’ll keep them from coming back. The good news is, pediatric dentists are trained to manage fearful children in dental visits.
More often than not, children’s fear about dentists and other medical professionals stems from a previous negative experience or negative information they’ve heard or have been told. This is why the first dental visit is crucial in making children understand why dentists shouldn’t be feared, including the importance of regular visits.
So, if you feel your child feels anxious about going to the dentist, don’t hesitate to express your concerns to their pediatric dentist.
- Parents Shouldn’t Wait To See A Pediatric Dentist
Dental visits are more important for young children as their teeth are still developing. This is where potential dental health problems can be addressed before they become irreversible or cause further problems such as speech difficulties and teeth misalignments.
Contrary to what most parents think, teeth and gum problems may start as early as childhood, especially with poor oral health habits.
It’s recommended that kids see a dentist as early as their first year, or within six months after their first tooth erupts. However, most parents just wait for their children’s baby teeth to fall off on their own instead of visiting a dentist, even when there’s visible decay and tartar. Usually, they don’t see dental visits as something important until an emergency happens, or a neglected dental issue became worse. In cases like this, children often suffer as they’ll have to deal with more invasive dental procedures, which, for parents, are more expensive. This is something that can be avoided if there are regular dental visits, to begin with.
As parents, we all want the best for our kids, especially when it comes to their health. Enforcing oral healthcare habits is often a struggle, and dental visits can sometimes become a nightmare. However, knowing which specialists you can go to for your children’s specific healthcare needs can make all the difference not only in the quality of service you can get, but also in your child’s comfort and safety, which every parent should prioritise.