Although some adults today are fearful about going to the dentist due to experiences they had as children, today’s children have nothing to fear when it comes to visiting the dentist, as long as parents introduce them to the dentist in a positive way and do it early on in their lives. Pediatric dentists, or dentists that specialize in treating children, understand the importance of making children feel comfortable and safe, and they can be an important component of the overall oral health of a child.
Children should visit a dentist at a young age, far before they have a full set of permanent teeth in their mouths. Although some parents think that there is no reason to bring a child to the dentist when they still have their “baby” teeth in their mouth since they will eventually fall out, it is still important to ensure that teeth and gums are healthy. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit the dentist within six months of the first tooth erupting and at least no later than their first birthday.
It is important that primary, or baby, teeth remain healthy even though they will eventually be replaced by a full set of permanent teeth. This is because these teeth aid in proper chewing and speaking for years and also pave the way for the permanent teeth that are to follow. Primary teeth can develop decay resulting in cavities just like permanent teeth, and proper care and routine dental treatment is needed to keep them healthy.
Visiting the dentist routinely and at an early age will also allow your child to get used to the idea of going to the dentist’s office before any more extensive dental work needs to be performed. If you take your child to a practice that offers pediatric dentistry, you are more likely to find a dental professional that knows how to care for and speak to children in a way that is age-appropriate. Pediatric dental offices are also often equipped to keep children busy while waiting for their appointments, and may even have diversions during appointments, such as video games, movies, and other toys and books.
Your attitude towards the dentist will go a long way towards setting your child’s attitude towards the dentist. If you introduce them to the dentist at an early age, make it a positive experience and don’t exhibit any fear or apprehension of your own towards the visit, your child will take his or her cues from you and will likely have a positive experience. If, on the other hand, you talk about how scary it was for you to go to the dentist when you were a child or even subconsciously display uneasiness about the visit, your child is likely to pick up on those negative cues and will be more inclined to be scared when they walk into the dentist’s office.
Today’s dental techniques, and the understanding dentists have about how to treat children both professionally and personally, leave little reason for your child to have a fear of the dentist. If you visit a pediatric dentist, you can feel confident that the dentist is experienced in treating children and is likely to offer a family-friendly atmosphere and attitude that will put your child at ease and will help set the stage for a lifetime of positive dental experiences and good oral health habits.
For more information about the pediatric dentistry services offered at Gentle Dental, contact 718-461-0100.