When does my toddler really need to go to the dentist? When can they brush on their own? Do sweet snacks really hurt?
If your house is anything like mine, getting teeth brushed every night is enough of a battle without considering all the other care that needs to go into keep teeth clean. But focusing on good oral heath now, can set them up for good care for their entire life. We’ve partnered with Dr. Ryan Francois of Pediatric Smiles Dentistry to bring you these helpful tips on children’s dental health. Pediatric Smiles Dentistry is a brand new, state of the art Kansas City area pediatric dentist, located in the Northland. Dr. Francois also maintains a faculty position at Children’s Mercy Hospital and sits on the board of Miles for Smiles, a nonprofit organization that provides dental care to underserved children in the Northland.
Tip #1: Children should have a dental home by age one.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists and The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children see a dentist by age one and continue with regular exams throughout their life. This regular, ongoing maintenance of primary teeth helps set your child up for a lifetime of oral health. At Pediatric Smiles, we offer complimentary initial exams to children under one year of age to help ensure that children have a positive start to their lifetime of oral health! We are excited to see our patients grow from toddlers to teens and be there to support you through your journey as a parent!
Tip #2: To get the most out of your child’s dental visits, don’t be shy.
Tell the dental assistant or dentist how your child is feeling. Describe the medications he or she takes and include drug allergies. If you don’t understand the dentist’s explanations, ask questions. If treatment is required, make sure you know why and what it involves. At Pediatric Smiles, one of our core values is patient-centered care. We will focus on the unique needs of your child and prioritize their dental health above all else. You can be sure that Dr. Francois will only recommend treatment when it is in the best interest of your child’s oral health and we want you to have time to ask questions about oral hygiene, post-appointment care and treatment plans.
Tip #3: Help your kids brush and floss!
There is no specific age when children should start brushing independently, some can start as early as six years of age. A good indicator for this is around the same time a child learns to tie their shoes. While others may need adult interaction and supervision until pre-adolescence. Flossing takes a little longer. Most kids shouldn’t floss without the help of a parent until around age 10. It’s important to teach kids how to brush and floss independently, but it’s just as important that, as parents, we make sure they are doing what it takes to adequately clean their teeth and gums.
Tip #4: Timing is everything!
Eating healthy snacks is a great start to good oral health, however, eating frequent snacks, whether they are healthy or not, makes it easier for bacteria to flourish in the mouth and form plaque on your child’s teeth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends limiting the number of snacks during the day to prevent cavities. That’s because it’s not just important what you eat, but when you eat. At mealtime, there is an increased amount of saliva in the mouth that can help wash away those starches or sugary treats, counteract acid-producing bacteria and remineralize teeth. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you or your child to never eat sweets or starches. There is a better time to eat them than at snack time, however, and that is during meals!
Join Kansas City Moms Blog and Pediatric Smiles for a Teddy Bear Dental Clinic on May 5! All kids will receive a teddy bear from US Toy to help them tour the office and navigate the different parts of a pediatric dental exam. From taking X-rays, to a cleaning, to the Cavity-Free Club, the Teddy Bears will get the full treatment by Pediatric Smiles staff while the kids see how fun it can be to go to the dentist! There will be light snacks, beverages, a Tooth Fairy craft kit, goodie bags and door prizes. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today.