We are frequently asked when is the best time to start introducing children to the dentist. Taking your child to the dentist early allows them to get used to the experience of visiting and allows us to check their development while providing diet and oral hygiene advice. This preventive advice, along with assessment of fluoride requirements can actually prevent the need for future treatment. We advise arranging an appointment before your child is 2, or earlier. Usually a first visit will be an ‘ice breaker’ appointment, familiarising your child with the practice and the team.
Before the appointment – Avoid using phrases such as ‘It won’t hurt’ ‘Be Brave’or ‘There’s nothing to be scared of’ – these thoughts may not have occurred to your child, actually creating anxiety. Our aim, after all is to prevent the need for treatment and stop toothache from ever occurring. If you are very nervous it may be better for a partner or family member to bring them to appointments, to avoid your anxiety transferring. Prepare your child by explaining to them what they can expect at their appointment – we usually say we will be ‘counting their teeth’ and will ‘sit on the magic chair’, to build excitement. If your child takes any medications or has any health conditions it is important that you bring these details along.
At their appointment – Often younger children sit with mum or dad in the chair on their 1st visit to build their confidence. The vast majority of our young patients leave with a smile and a promise to return at their next check up: the dentist may advise your child to return for a routine appointment at any interval between 3 and 12 months, tailored to their needs.
What you can do to protect and care for young teeth – Brush as soon as teeth appear with fluoride toothpaste (1,0000 parts per million) and a soft baby toothbrush. Never put a baby to bed with a bottle, sugars and acid from milk or juices remain for long periods and rapidly damage their little teeth, in extreme cases leading to the need to remove teeth. As a general rule children under 7 will need you to brush their teeth, and older children will require supervision to ensure they are brushing effectively. Allowing your child to brush themselves before you ‘checking’ (and covering areas they may have missed!) teaches children to take responsibility for their oral hygiene and builds their confidence. Always brush first thing in the morning and last thing at night, using an egg timer or listening to the radio can help time the 2 minute minimum, while making brushing as fun as possible! There are loads of phone apps available which make tooth brushing fun – we like ‘Aquafresh Brush Time’ which allow your child to collect rewards online.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s dental health you can call us on 01443 812559 (Ystrad Mynach) or 01443 451851 (Nelson) for free advice.