From choosing the right children’s dentist to caring for those baby teeth, here are some of the best things you can do to keep your kids’ teeth healthy and promote good dental habits for a lifetime.
Caring for baby teeth
First, forget the misconception that baby teeth don’t matter because they’ll fall out anyway. The truth is, milk teeth are very important! Just as permanent teeth are meant to last a lifetime, primary teeth are meant to last until the permanent ones are ready to erupt.
“Your child’s primary teeth are used for chewing food properly and speaking clearly. They also reserve space in the jaw for permanent teeth, helping to prevent those teeth from being crooked or crowded. That’s why it’s important to protect your child from painful decay of their primary teeth,” says Dr Ja Intarasoot, paediatric dentist at Atria-City Junior Dental Care. The clinic provides specialist dental care specifically to children, from infancy through the teen years.
Therefore, encouraging your child’s healthy dental habits really starts with understanding the importance of caring for those pearly whites from the moment they appear. Managing your child’s diet, feeding habits and oral hygiene are all key to preventing childhood cavities.
See a dentist when your child’s first anterior tooth appears, or if the first tooth does not erupt at all by age one.
At the initial visit, little ones will have the opportunity to meet the dentist in a non-threatening, friendly way. The first appointment is usually short and involves very little treatment, says Dr Ja.
The dentist may ask you to sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the examination. Your child’s existing teeth will be checked for decay, his or her bite will be examined, and any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues will be flagged.
In addition, the first check-up is an opportunity for parents to learn about oral health care basics for children, discuss any dental developmental issues and ask questions.
Schedule regular check-ups
Routine checks can help prevent common oral problems from occurring as your child grows. Dr Ja recommends scheduling check-ups every three to four months by the age of three. Of course, the schedule may vary according to each child’s needs and risks.
During one of these visits, preventive dental care such as fluoride treatment or fissure sealants to protect molars from decay may be necessary.
“By age six, an orthodontic assessment will be done to intercept possible developing orthodontic problems,” says orthodontist Dr Bryce Lee, who heads up Atria-City Junior Dental Care. “An orthodontist is uniquely qualified in the detection and early treatment of these problems.”
“Early intervention can prevent a more serious orthodontic problem from arising. Certain bite problems can be easily fixed at an early age, helping to reduce the need for complex orthodontic treatment later on,” he says.
Choose the right dentist!
It’s important to help your child build and maintain a positive attitude toward dental care. Key to this is having a good experience at the dentist’s office. Therefore, consider choosing an established dental group practice with specialist dental care provided by paediatric dentists and orthodontists.
The Atria-City Junior Dental Care team, for instance, comprises both paedodontic and orthodontic specialists. Dr Lee and Dr Ja manage the team, working hand-in-hand to provide a wide range of specialist dental treatments for their young patients. They specialise in areas such as growth and development, child psychology, treatment of traumatic injuries, sedation, oral rehabilitation of very young children under general anaesthetic, dental care of the handicapped and specialised procedures unique to young children and teens.
Most specialist paediatric dental clinics offer child-friendly atmospheres. Colourful designs in the treatment room can create a more cheerful setting, while toys, videos, books and television can make the visit extra exciting. Bonus points for TVs mounted on the ceiling to keep the tikes entertained (and relaxed) during the appointment.
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