According to the American Dental Association (ADA), approximately 75% of people have a fear of the dentist. Many adults today cringe when they think of going to the dentist, and this is primarily because they had negative experiences as children or young adults. The good news is that dentistry has come a long way since those days when we went running for the hills when we heard the word dentist, and if you introduce your child to the dentist early, you make it more likely that he or she will grow up with a more positive view of dental visits and a higher commitment to good oral care.
Ideally, it is recommended that your child first visit the dentist around his or her first birthday. It is best to find a pediatric dentist for your child or to use a family dental practice that offers pediatric dentistry services. Not all dentists offer dental services for children, and among those who do, not all have a great way with children. It’s one thing to know how to care for a child’s teeth and gums, but it’s another to make a child feel comfortable and at ease.
If you find that the dentist you visit does not make your child feel comfortable, it may be time to find another dentist that will. The more you can take steps to make your child feel at ease when he or she visits the dentist at an early age, the more likely your child is to grow up with a positive and healthy attitude about visiting the dentist.
During early visits, the dentist will simply make sure that all baby teeth are healthy and that teeth are growing in properly. Your child’s teeth will be gently cleaned and recommendations may be made related to eating and drinking habits that should be changed if any signs of decay are apparent. For example, pediatric dentists recommend that babies and children not be put to bed with a bottle in the mouth, since this can lead to a condition known as baby bottle mouth, where dental caries result from baby teeth being continually bathed in milk, juice or formula. If you must put your child down with a bottle, dentists recommend that they only be filled with water.
It is important to speak positively to your child about trips to the dentist so that they don’t pick up on any negative thoughts you may have yourself about the experience. If you have your own fears or dislike of the dentist, try to keep it to yourself. Doing so will give your child the best chance of growing up without the same fears that you may have. A positive early dental experience, combined with a pediatric dentist that understands how to treat children and advances in dentistry over the years that makes dental visits more pleasant are likely to lead to far less children fearing a trip to the dentist than were seen in previous generations.
For more information about the compassionate pediatric dentistry services offered by Gentle Dental in Queens, call us at 718-461-0100.