When to see a Pediatric Dentist
At the center of it all, ALFIE Dentistry is a family practice and it is one of our greatest pleasures to watch young families grow with us! But to foster excellent lifelong oral hygiene habits, it's incredibly important to get children started when they're small.
Establishing dental routines at home
Forming that dentist-patient relationship at an early age and
Making kids feel comfortable in the dental chair
Before teeth start growing in, you can use baby gum massagers or simply wrap a clean wet cloth around a finger and gently massage their gums. By doing this, you're:
cleaning the gums
stimulating the gums for future growth of teeth
getting the baby used to the sensations of having something 'brush' their mouths every day (so that the transition to toothbrushing is much easier) - if this is a goal, try to do this twice a day, just like 'regular' brushing
** It's also extremely important not to allow babies to go to bed with their milk bottle. Milk contains milk sugars so when they sit on babies' teeth overnight, it can lead to extensive early decay. Obviously, this goes for juices with their fruit sugars as well. If you really want to get graphic, search "Baby Bottle Syndrome" on your web browser.
As soon as the baby has teeth, they should be brushed - again, very gently to remove food particles. For more details on gum massaging and brushing for babies, ask your hygienist at your next routine cleaning. They're more than happy and equipped with the knowledge and techniques to show you how - as well as recommend great infant products, if desired. Call us for an Oral Hygiene Instruction session and book with one of our lovely hygienists - (416) 226-6688.
Ideally, children are recommended to start seeing the dentist:
about 6 months after the first teeth grow in (as recommended by the Canadian Dental Association)
at the 1-year mark, even if no teeth have erupted
This one is not-so-ideal but definitely recommended: if there's a problem (e.g. visible caries, trauma to their dentition, etc.)
Especially if children have been exposed to early dental routines and accompanying their parents and/or calm siblings to dental visits as observers, most of our Mini Smiling Star Patients are happy and comfortable for their first dental visit. That's one of the reasons why we recommend that we start with the older/more mature family members first - so that the littlest Patients develop that comfort level first before sitting in the dental chair themselves.
And yet...sometimes it doesn't work out that way :D Enter Pediatric Specialists - dental professionals trained to work solely on and cater towards children. Here's when you should see them instead of a general dentist:
If the general dentist finds a lot of issues (e.g. decay) that would require a lot of treatment. Although they might be fine with the general dentist doing the treatment, it might also be too much for the little tyke to handle. Since it's a big, huge "maybe" that they'll be okay, it's much better to see pediatric dentist to minimize any potential trauma. We've met a good number of anxious adult patients whose fears traces back to their childhood experiences so we know first hand how detrimental it can be. Pediatric dentists have special children-friendly services, techniques, decor, etc that can really help them feel at ease.
Particularly anxious or nervous children should also see pediatric dentists. Again, the reasoning is to minimize potential traumas.
Our office caters mostly to children ages 3 and up - or when they have the maturity to follow simple directions like, "Please open your mouth so that we can take a look inside". So before this age, a pediatric dentist is recommended.
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