February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, the perfect time to share our thoughts on dental care for our littlest patients.
Our patients who are new parents often ask, “At what age should we start bringing our child to the dentist?” I don’t hesitate for a second – three and a half. Why three and a half you might ask? Why not three? Or four? After practicing dentistry for about three and a half decades, I can assure you – three and a half is the perfect age to start a child’s lifelong relationship with dentistry in a fun and positive way.
That is the magic age when the child understands what’s happening at the dentist’s office. A simple explanation of why they are here and what they can expect immediately allays any fear they may be experiencing. They are also at an age when they want to cooperate, responding well to the request, ”Please open wide…like an alligator.”
Parents also want to know what will happen at this first visit. Our goal is to make their first appointment fun, laying the groundwork for a positive relationship and the knowledge that they will grow up in a dental practice that is always free of pain or stress. For some children, that means simply counting their teeth and calling it a day. For others, “Mr. Thirsty” may seem like a fun diversion while teaching children that this tool is used for “buzzing” cavity bugs off their teeth.
If all is still going well, we proceed with polishing those tiny pearly whites. Before the visit ends, we help parents learn to look for any signs of tooth decay or other oral health issues, and we provide parents with the best methods to help their children brush effectively.
What about a pediatric dentist you might ask? We support that option if your child has special needs like cavities at a very early age or any unusual issues – but for the most part, 80 to 90 percent of kids do great in our practice. As parents and grandparents, we are very kid focused, giving out child friendly toothbrushes and an invitation to our “Cavity-Free Club” where kids can put their name in a drawing for a Target gift card if their check-up is cavity-free. We also offer a selection of little toys to choose from after appointments – but no candy!
One of our greatest joys is watching children grown up in our practice, learning about their achievements, and seeing them become teachers, doctors, lawyers, and yes, even dentists. We give children a continuity of care so they never grow out of our practice. We are thrilled when the next generation comes along, and suddenly, we are caring for all three generations of a family. It gives special meaning to having a family practice.
As always, please call us with any questions or concerns about caring for the beautiful smiles of your children and grandchildren.
We love your feedback, so feel free to send your comments our way.
All the best from our family to yours,