The First Trip to the Dentist
The leading cause of cavities for young children is due to the fact that they drink sugared or sweetened drinks from sippy cups or bottles. This includes juices of all kinds that are considered “naturally sweetened.” Putting a child to bed with a drink, even milk, sets the stage for cavities to develop. It is important to identify your risk factors and make a decision about visiting a dentist early, especially if you have well water or notice a problem in your child's mouth. Other risk factors that affect your child's oral health are poor eating habits (common during the toddler years), family history of poor teeth, high use of antibiotics, and general underlying health issues.
It is recommended to find a pediatric dentist for your toddler to go to. No matter how much you love your family dentist, pediatric dentistry has come a long way and is designed to make children feel comfortable during the visit. Pediatric dentists receive special training, have specialized equipment that is child-sized, and make efforts to accommodate children who may be afraid. Additionally, if your child has special needs, like Down syndrome, you may want to seek out a dentist that specializes in working on special needs patients. During the first visit, you can expect your child to fuss and a good pediatric dentist will not be bothered by it. Essentially they are just going to peak into your toddler's mouth, clean a few of the teeth that they can, and pass on all sorts of valuable information for you that will make caring for your child's teeth much easier. Learning about fluoride uses, special products to help children learn proper brushing, and easy ways to get their teeth clean are invaluable. Beyond that, they will generally set up a treatment plan if needed, and work towards acclimating your child to dentistry in a calm, professional, and non-frightening way.
If your child does have cavities, you don't have to be fearful of how the fillings will be performed. Pediatric dentists use nasal sprays and other forms of sedation that can be done in office to ensure that your child is comfortable and safe during the procedure. You will also find that procedures done under sedation take a fraction of the time they do when a patient is awake. If the work is extensive, many pediatric dentists will request ‘out patient' sedation and will perform the dental work at a hospital. This way they can work on all the teeth, apply sealants, and have your toddler back to normal in less than 30 minutes without scarring them with fear.
The first dental visit is as important as the first doctor's visit. What few parents realize is that the baby teeth, although temporary fixtures, can have a lasting impact on the health of the adult teeth that are already dormant underneath the surface. Poor oral hygiene, diet, and lack of adequate fluoride can have a lasting impact on your child's adult teeth and can lead to problems throughout their life. Many parents avoid the dentist because they feel guilty or ashamed of the fact that their 2-year-old has cavities. Keep in mind that you are not alone and that even the most well-intended and diligent parents can have toddlers with teeth that are less than desirable. If you visit a pediatric dentist who seems to act in a way that shames you then find another one who does not. There are plenty of dentists who understand the importance of consideration and respect when it comes to dealing with parents and children. Without dental intervention and instruction, it is very difficult to know the tips and tricks to caring for your toddler's teeth. Even more promising is that by visiting the dentist and taking care of what needs to be done now, you will be paving the way for healthier teeth in the future. When you know better, you will do better.
One very common deterrent to taking toddlers to the dentist is that more than half of all insurance companies do not pay for dental care until the age of three. Dental care, especially with pediatric specialists, is expensive and can be unaffordable for many families. If you are able to, obtaining a note of referral or need from your pediatrician may enable your claims to fall under clauses within your insurance that allow you to get the care you need under the blanket of your medical policy. It may require a little legwork and phone calls, but it is definitely worth it.
Dentistry has come a long way from what it was just 10 years ago and this is especially true in the area of pediatric dentistry. Once your child visits the dentist and gets used to the staff, equipment, and the surroundings, you will find they may take to regular cleanings or routine work without much of a fuss because they are learning early on that the dentist is nothing to fear. If you haven't taken your child, find a reputable pediatric dentistry practice in your area and schedule your first consultation. You and your child will be healthier and more adept at taking care of their teeth after just the first visit.