Bringing your little one to a dentist for the first time can be a daunting experience for both parent and child. However, instilling a good first impression can help your child view dental care in a positive light in the long run. Although it can be nerve-wrecking initially, exposing your child to a pediatric dentist early on can also help them to get used to the experience in general. Also, establishing a healthy dental care routine such as brushing and flossing regularly are definitely good habits to instil in childhood. To help you understand more about dentistry for kids, we’ll be exploring why it’s so important and how we can make the first experience a comfortable one.
- Dental care for infants and children
- Why is dentistry for kids important?
- Making your child’s first visit a comfortable one
- The types of dentistry services for kids in Singapore
- Frequently asked questions
Dental care for infants and children
Positive feelings towards dental care stems from one’s earliest dental experiences as a child. Hence, proper dental care for infants and children can play a huge role in getting them on the right track towards a healthy dental care journey. In addition to providing a safe environment for your child, a good kid’s dentist should also have a team of pediatric dentists and nurses to help your child feel calm and at ease during their visit.
Why is dentistry for kids important?
No matter how young your child is, proper care of their baby teeth is extremely important. Besides aiding with speech development, your child’s baby teeth also plays a huge role in developing his / her facial muscles and jawbones. Since most children’s baby teeth start to fall off at the age of 6, proper care is paramount to prevent and treat tooth decay. If a decaying baby tooth is not addressed immediately, it can lead to premature tooth loss and increases the risk of crooked permanent teeth later on.
Making your child’s first visit a comfortable one
Although it is normal for kids to fidget and feel anxious in the dentist’s chair, we have various management methods to help make their experience a comfortable one.
This is an important one! Aside from exposing your child to dental care early on, positive reinforcement can do wonders in creating a good first experience. In addition to verbal praise and words of encouragement, little rewards like a star sticker or even a badge can help to boost your child’s confidence in the dentist’s chair.
Give them control
When your child feels in control, he / she will be less likely to feel anxious at his / her first visit to the dentist. Hence, it is important to let them know that they have the say when it comes to stopping the dental checkup or treatment whenever they start to feel uncomfortable. Also, a dentist who follows through with your child’s wishes can instil further trust and confidence in your child.
Demonstrations and open communication
Kids (and even adults sometimes) fear what they do not know or understand. So to put your child at ease, it is important that your child’s dentist takes the time to explain and demonstrate the procedure on a 3D tooth model. Knowing what will happen can help put your child’s fears and anxieties to rest.
To further help put your child at ease during a visit, it helps to incorporate distractions such as music or cartoon shows while they’re in the dentist’s chair. Additionally, even talking to them calmly and in an assuring manner can help to divert their attention away from the dental procedure.
IV sedation or general anesthesia
When dealing with kids with special needs or severe anxiety, IV sedation or general anesthesia is a potential option to allow for a smooth-sailing procedure. While it may feel alarming to put one’s child under IV sedation, pediatric medical literature shows that the risk of a serious reaction is very low (in the range of 1 in 25,000 to 1 in 200,000). On the other hand, the risks of not having proper dental treatment include toothache, tooth decay, infection and damage to future permanent teeth.
The types of dentistry services for kids in Singapore
Pediatric oral hygiene and dental checkup
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, all kids should have their first dental checkup by their first birthday. Also, 50% of children in Singapore experience Early Childhood Caries by 6 years of age. Thus, early dental care is vital to keeping this prevalent form of tooth decay in check.
Generally, extractions can be an unpleasant experience. However, a pediatric dentist takes great care to keep the child feeling comfortable throughout the procedure.
Childhood tooth decay tends to show up on the biting surfaces of a child’s baby and permanent molars. Hence, fissure sealants serve as a preventative treatment to seal these surfaces to prevent them from trapping food and causing cavities.
Crooked teeth prevention and treatment
Early baby tooth loss can potentially result in crooked permanent teeth in the future. So to prevent this early tooth loss, management is essential in correcting certain habits like sucking on thumbs as well as pacifiers.
Pulpal therapy for children
Because children’s baby teeth are thin and contain larger pulps, they are more prone to cavities and nerve infections. As you know, the pulp carries the tooth’s blood vessels and nerves – both of which deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tooth. Hence, damage to the pulp can lead to infections and early loss of the baby tooth. To save the tooth, pulpal therapy helps to preserve the structure of the tooth without the need for extraction.
Fillings and crowns
Tooth-coloured fillings that are free of toxic metals like mercury can safely restore your child’s confidence in his / her smile. On the other hand, stainless steel crowns are a good option for baby teeth that are too worn out for regular fillings.
Frequently asked questions
1. When should I bring my little one for his / her first dental checkup?
It is recommended to bring your child for his / her first dental checkup upon his / her first birthday. Alternatively, you can also bring your child to the dentist as soon as his / her first baby tooth erupts. Our first visit is usually to educate the parents on good dietary and hygiene measures that will initiate good oral health.
2. Why are baby teeth important if they’re going to fall out anyway?
Early baby teeth tooth loss increases the potential risk of crooked permanent teeth in adulthood. Thus, proper dental care and oral hygiene practices are essential to protecting your child’s baby teeth from premature loss.
3. What can my little one and I expect on our first visit to a pediatric dentist?
As with all first experiences, your first visit to the dentist with your little one is all about exposure and getting used to the whole process. A pediatric dentist that establishes trust and builds a bond with your child can help to make the whole experience a more comfortable and enjoyable one.
4. How often should I bring my little one to see a dentist?
Just like us, it is a good idea for kids to get a dental checkup every 6 months. In some cases, some kids may require more frequent checkups to follow up on dental procedures. Moreover, having regular checkups can also help dentists to spot any dental development issues early on and address them accordingly.