Of all the dental problems that can affect a child, which one do you think is the most common? You guessed it – cavities. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 50 percent of children have one or more cavities by the time they turn five.
You may shrug at this finding with the false assumption that baby teeth don’t matter because they fall out anyway. However, decayed baby teeth can negatively affect the growth and eruption of permanent teeth. Plus, if your child doesn’t have good habits at a young age, he or she is more likely to suffer dental problems in the future.
Now that you recognize the importance of good dental hygiene in children, here’s how to instill healthy behaviors that reduce the chance of cavities.
Teach Proper Tooth Brushing Techniques
As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, make it a habit of brushing every morning and night. For infants, this means rubbing a clean, wet washcloth over your child’s teeth.
Starting at age three, you can begin using a pea-sized amount of kid’s fluoride toothpaste on a child-sized toothbrush. Encourage your child not to swallow the toothpaste, but know that ingesting this small amount won’t cause any harm.
Help your child hold the toothbrush and demonstrate how to brush the front, top and back of each tooth. Continue to supervise tooth brushing until your child can do it alone, usually between six and eight years old.
Teach Which Foods Cause Cavities
Diet is a significant factor in your child’s overall dental health. Teach that sticky, sugary foods linger on the teeth for hours and wear away at the enamel, causing cavities. You can use this information to encourage your child to eat healthier. After indulging in caramel, toffee, gummy bears, juice or soda, teach your child to brush as soon as possible or at least swish with water to wash away the sugar.
Teach About the Importance of Dental Checkups
At-home dental care is important, but nothing compares to a professional cleaning at the dentist’s office. Strive to take your child to a kid-friendly dentist starting at age one. Then, return once every six months or as recommended by the dentist for on-going check-ups and cleanings.
Practice What You Preach
The best way to get your child on board with these dental hygiene tips is to lead by example. If you expect your child to brush every morning and night, you had better do the same. If you serve apple slices explaining that candy is bad for your teeth, don’t sneak candy when your child isn’t looking. And if you require your child to visit the dentist every six months, you should follow suit.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s dental hygiene, or if it’s time to schedule a dentist appointment for anyone in your family, please contact Zen Dental Center in Seattle by calling 206-324-1100. As a family dentist, we provide excellent oral care to kids and adults alike.
Many people feel a little stressed about visiting the dentist, but true dental anxiety is different. You might feel tense or have trouble sleeping the night before a dentist appointment. Your nervousness may escalate while you’re in the waiting room, and the sight of dental instruments in the exam room increases your anxiety even more.
If these feelings sound all too familiar, now’s the time to tackle your dental anxiety. Otherwise, you might use your fear as an excuse to cancel appointments, which could put your oral health at risk. Work with your dentist to overcome your anxious feelings, and you’ll be well on your way to healthier teeth and gums.
Tell your dentist about your apprehension
As many as 40 million Americans experience dental anxiety, so you’re certainly not alone. When you set an appointment at Zen Dental Center, let us know you’re feeling nervous. We’ll answer your questions and set your mind at ease about your upcoming dental exam or cleaning.
Bring a friend or family member with you
There’s nothing childish about wanting moral support at the dentist. Schedule an appointment back-to-back with your significant other, so you can go together, or ask another friend or family member to accompany you.
Discuss pain control techniques
Fear of pain and traumatic experiences in the past are two common reasons for dental anxiety. Fortunately, advancements in “pain-free” dentistry make it easier to get procedures done with less discomfort. Ask your dentist about:
- Local anesthetic
- Topical anesthetic
- Electronic anesthetic
- Laser drills, a more pain-free way to prepare cavities for filling
- Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
- Intravenous (IV) sedation
- General anesthesia
These pain control techniques can give you the confidence you need to set your next appointment.
Focus on your breathing
When you sit down in the big chair, think about taking slow, deep breaths. This helps keep your oxygen levels up and your stress level down.
Listen to some music
You can drown out the sound of the dental drill by listening to some tunes with headphones on. Just be prepared to pause your music any time the dentist needs to provide instructions.
Use hand signals
Since it’s difficult to talk while dental tools are in your mouth, agree upon hand signs you can use to communicate during a procedure. For instance, if you need the dentist to stop for any reason, you might raise your left hand. This helps you feel more in control during your visit.
At Zen Dental Center, we want you to feel comfortable visiting our office for routine teeth cleanings and check-ups. Many of our patients have overcome dental anxiety thanks to our friendly and experienced staff. We’re always willing to adjust the care we provide to ensure your complete comfort. To learn more about us, or to schedule an appointment with our Seattle dentist, please contact us at 206-324-1100 today.