Pediatric dentists are a combination of scientists and entertainers. They are scientifically trained to care for the oral health of young children and are also adept at making them feel safe and comfortable while teaching them about good oral hygiene. All of the pediatric dentist's training and expertise is used to help young children overcome their fear of the dentist, teach them how to take care of their primary and permanent teeth and gums, and foster good dental habits. If you are a parent with a young child, you can prepare them for their first appointment with a pediatric dentist by doing the following:
- Clean Gums - After each meal, clean your child's gums with a clean, damp cloth moistened with warm water. Gently wipe both the top and bottom gums to acquaint your child with someone cleaning the inside of their mouth.
- Brush Teeth - Begin brushing your child's teeth as soon as he or she has a few visible primary teeth. Use a very soft child-size toothbrush and plain warm water. Do not use toothpaste until your child is old enough to understand they should not swallow it but spit it out.
- Count Teeth - Once your child has a few teeth, ask them to sit in a chair and tell them that you want to count their teeth. Put on some rubber gloves and ask your child to open their mouth. Shine a flashlight into their mouth and count their teeth out loud. This will acquaint your child with an oral examination.
- Show and Tell - Whenever you brush your own teeth, invite your child to watch you. Explain each step to your child so that he or she can learn about brushing, rinsing, and spitting out the toothpaste.
- Talk About the Dentist - Prepare your child for their first dental appointment by talking about the dentist and building calm excitement. Explain the different procedures that the dentist will do such as x-rays and cleaning and show them a few pictures of children at the dentist. This will prepare your child for exactly what to expect when they go to the dentist.
- Visit the Dentist - A child's first visit to a pediatric dentist should be done before they are the age of one. During that visit, the dentist will examine your child's teeth and bite, take a few x-rays, and gently clean your child's teeth. When your child is old enough to take and follow directions, the pediatric dentist will demonstrate to your child how to brush their teeth.
While introducing your child to the dentist and cleaning their teeth, tell them about eating healthy food and staying away from too much sugar. Remind them of these lessons often so that they begin to see the relationship between the food they eat and their oral health. With these lessons, you and your pediatric dentist are working together to ensure that your child will have a great smile that will last a lifetime.