Did you know that your child should visit the dentist within six months of the eruption of his or her first tooth? Many people do not realise that visiting the dentist is very important for children’s health, and regular dental visits should not be delayed until children are older or develop problems with their teeth.
First visits to the dentist may be more about allowing the child to feel comfortable in the dental surgery and watching parents or siblings as they have dental examinations. However, this is a vital part of teaching good habits that will help children to protect their teeth as they grow older, and along with a balanced diet and great brushing habits, will create strong and healthy teeth for life.
Building Confidence at the Dental Surgery
Here at the Guiney Dental Clinic, we know that many people feel worried about visiting the dentist. Our dentists and dental hygienists are experienced and friendly, and will always take the time to make sure you and your children are comfortable and relaxed during appointments and procedures.
The dentist will not usually carry out any treatments on young children, unless they are experiencing pain or have teeth that are decaying, but it is important for children to visit the dentist every six months so that any potential problems can be identified quickly and treated as non-invasively as possible.
What Can a Dentist Offer Children?
Children will need some help with caring for their teeth while they are young, but some children find it very upsetting to have their teeth brushed. Dentists can work with parents to encourage good brushing and help children to feel positive about caring for their teeth, but may also offer the following treatments if they feel they are necessary:
• Sealants. Dental sealants may be suggested if a child has a tooth that is decaying. Tooth decay can cause many chronic problems and sealants can help to prevent or reduce the damage. Sealants are usually clear or white, and are made of a plastic composite that is applied to chewing surfaces that are particularly susceptible to decay.
• Fluoride treatments. Fluoride treatments are often offered by dentists to help protect developing teeth from enamel damage. It is a good idea to read more about fluoride and find out whether the drinking water in your area has fluoride added to it, as most tap water in Ireland is fluoridated and fluoride treatments may not be necessary in this case.
• Fillings. It is not common, but occasionally children will develop tooth decay if the enamel on their teeth does not develop properly or if they eat a high sugar diet. Composite fillings can be put into baby teeth to prevent further damage to teeth and protect the area, but treatment will depend on the extent of the problem.
• Extractions. Children rarely need teeth extracted, but if there is a lot of overcrowding, a dentist may advise extracting teeth to make room for adult teeth to grow correctly. It is also possible that an extraction will be advised if tooth decay is severe, to allow the area to heal and prevent damage to adult teeth.
Top Tips to Protect Your Child’s Teeth
Teaching your children the correct way to care for their teeth can set them up to have a great smile for life. Although the milk teeth will fall out and be replaced by adult teeth, it is still important to care for them properly in order to protect the mouth and gums and to learn good dental habits. Damaged milk teeth can cause difficulties for the adult teeth that follow, so keeping them in great shape is vital.
Children should learn how to care for their teeth for themselves, and role modelling is the best way to encourage this. Looking after your own teeth, especially by brushing twice a day and flossing daily, will demonstrate what to do and help create positive habits from the beginning. The following tips will help you to ensure that your children have great teeth throughout their lives:
• Use a mouthguard. Any child who is playing a team sport or riding a bike or scooter should wear a mouth guard to protect their teeth in the event of an accident. You can try a standard mouthguard or a custom made option that may offer better protection.
• Brush twice a day. Teeth should always be brushed twice a day, for at least two minutes each time, and parents should brush teeth until children are around 7 years old. However, it is important to be aware that some children will not be able to brush competently by this age, and this is just a guideline. Brushing technique is crucial, and your dentist can help to show you the best way to clean your child’s teeth. You may want to explore the many dental apps that have been designed to encourage good brushing and healthy dental habits, as many children are very resistant to brushing and these apps can be a great way to make it more fun.
• Visit the dentist every six months. It is very important to take your child to the dentist twice yearly, to help prevent cavities and tooth decay. Healthy teeth make it easier for children to chew food, speak clearly and smile confidently, which can have a huge impact on self esteem in later life. If you are worried about visiting the dentist, the chances are that your child will become worried by this too. It is well worth taking the time to help your child to feel confident about the visit, perhaps by reading books about the dentist or watching an episode of a favourite show that features a dental appointment. It is important to choose a family friendly dental practice in which your child will be made to feel welcome and relaxed.
• Eat a good diet. Eating a good diet is essential for the development of healthy teeth, and this is important for adults and children alike. Fresh fruit and vegetables should form the basis of every meal, and children should only eat sugary snacks occasionally as these can cause extensive damage to the teeth. It is not usually a good idea to ban treats outright, however, as this can lead children to overindulge when given the opportunity. Enjoying all foods in moderation is usually a more healthy approach in the long term.
• Avoid fizzy drinks. Children should not drink fizzy drinks or too much juice, and should be encouraged to use a straw whenever possible to limit contact between these drinks and their teeth. Water and milk are the most healthy drinks for children, and these can help to remove bacteria in the mouth and re-balance the pH of the mouth after eating to prevent tooth decay.
Find A Good Family Dentist In Cork
When you have a family, it’s even more important to have an experienced and friendly dentist you can trust. Visit us at Guiney Dental Clinic to meet our team of dentists and dental hygienists, who will always take the time to help children and adults to feel calm and confident during dental visits. Call us today on 021-481 0535.