A Parent's Guide to Children's Dentistry | Best Children's Dentists San Diego
How to build the best dental plan for your child
Let's face it. Nobody likes going to the dentist.
Not even adults.
When's the last time you saw someone get excited about their upcoming dental cleaning?
It's incredibly rare.
And it's even rarer to see a child happy about the notion of a doctor poking around in their mouth for fifteen or twenty minutes.
As an adult, you know how important it is to take good care of your teeth. So, you do what you have to do.
But how can you impart that knowledge to your kids? How do you show them the significance of creating healthy dental habits?
And more importantly, where do you start?
In this article, we're going to tackle issues such as:
When to take your child in for their first dental visit
When to start brushing and flossing their teeth
Fun ways to get your children excited (or at least less fussy) about going to the dentist and taking care of their teeth, and
Where to look if you need a children's dentist in San Diego.
We're going to rinse away all the confusion about how to craft the best dental plan for your kids. By the time you finish reading, you'll feel like a bonafide children's dental care professional!
When Should You Take Your Child to the Dentist?
The short answer is the sooner, the better!
More specifically, though, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD):
Within six months of their first tooth coming in, and no later than twelve months of age.
That might sound early, but there's a good reason for it.
Tooth decay is the most common infectious disease affecting children in the US today. In fact, 28% of kids have cavities by the time they reach kindergarten.
As upsetting as these statistics are, they're not surprising considering all the sugar-loaded foods and drinks that kids consume every day.
Not to mention, when a child's teeth first come in, the enamel is still immature and more susceptible to developing cavities.
A dental home is a relationship between you and your dentist that involves the proper maintenance and supervision of you or a loved one's dental health.
Building a dental home is crucial to starting your children’s dental care off on the right foot, getting a head start in the fight against cavities, and saving you money.
Plus, the more you take them to your local San Diego children’s dentist when they're young, the quicker they'll get used to it. It also helps to find a dentist in your area who works well with kids.
That’s where we come in.
At Dental Express, visits to the dentist are nothing to stress about. Your children’s dental cleaning is a fun learning experience that leaves them feeling comfortable and curious about dental health.
With six locations in the San Diego area, access to children’s dental services is simple and close to home. Schedule your dental appointment today.
When to Start Flossing Your Baby's Teeth
Flossing is a vital part of your children's dental care routine because it helps get rid of plaque in hard to reach places that brushing can't cover.
If you don't regularly floss your child's teeth, plaque left behind from brushing will start to eat away at their enamel leading to tooth decay and cavities.
So, when should you start?
According to the AAPD, flossing should start whenever two teeth touch each other, usually between two and two and a half years old.
Of course, everyone's teeth come indifferently. So, you may only have a couple in the front or back to floss depending on how spaced out they are. Just make sure to get in between all teeth that happen to be touching each other, and you'll be in the clear.
Kids take at least a couple more years to get adjusted to flossing on their own than brushing. They usually adapt to it around eight to ten years old.
Pre-threaded flossers can help them adjust quicker, as they're easier to control and only require one hand to use.
Making At-Home Dental Care A Blast for Your Little Ones
Getting your kids excited about at-home dental care doesn't have to feel like pulling teeth. There are plenty of fun ways to spice up your toddler's teeth-cleaning routine:
- Play dentist at home: have a stuffed animal with some teeth? Throw on your toy stethoscopes and get to work; Snuffles is way overdue for a checkup! You could also take turns giving each other checkups, swapping between playing doctor and patient. Playing dentist with your toddler is the perfect time to bond with your little one while teaching them the importance of taking care of their teeth.
- Read books about going to the dentist: get them laughing about the dentist with a funny story, and they're sure to be more relaxed at their next checkup. Books are a fantastic way to familiarize them with the idea of going to the dentist while learning about dental health.
- Create a habit tracker: print out a brush and floss chart with the days of the week on it to keep track of your child's dental habits. Fill it out with stickers that they love and give them lots of praise when they complete it. You could even have a reward system for when they finish a full month. The possibilities are endless!
- Make a game out of it: if you're helping your toddler brush or floss, sing a silly toothbrushing ballad to make them smile. Or if they're old enough to brush on their own, you can brush at the same time, and whoever goes the longest wins. Keep a tally of points based on their brushing and flossing habits. Anyone who brushes gets five points, and flossing is worth ten. Whoever has the most points at the end of the week wins a prize!
Implementing these fun, lighthearted activities will make seeing your San Diego children’s dentist a lot less scary and uncomfortable for your children. It may even get them excited about going to get a checkup!
Making the Dentist Exciting for Your Kids
When you go to your children's dentist in San Diego , it's crucial to make it a positive experience in your child's life.
Waiting until there's an issue to take them in will cause them to associate negative feelings with going to the dentist.
And, nobody needs help developing a bad taste in their mouth about the dentist.
So, you should try to maintain a regular dental care routine for your child and do your best to make it a fun, loving experience!
Here are some helpful tips for turning your next San Diego children’s dentist visit into an adventure:
- Start them early: establishing a dental home as early as possible shows your kids that going to the dentist is a normal part of life. If they're used to going, they'll have less anxiety when it's time for a checkup.
- Radiate positivity: part of making your children feel comfortable at the dentist is how you act and talk to them about it. Give them lots of love. Talk positively about their teeth. Sit them on your lap during the checkup to comfort them. Show them with your actions that the dentist is safe and something to be excited about.
- Have fun: this is your chance to get creative! Have a sing-along in the car on the way to the dentist. Play a fun game with your toddler in the waiting room. Let them take their favorite stuffed animal or blanket with them, so they feel more comfortable. Let them bring their favorite toy with them to show it off to all the staff. The more they feel at home, the easier it is for them to have fun!
- Rewards and praise: often, dentists will have prizes for kids who mustered up the courage to brave the dentist chair. Things like stickers or toys are the perfect way to reinforce a positive experience. After the appointment, tell them how great they did. Ask them how much fun they had and how friendly the dentist was. If your little one was particularly good during their appointment, you could even offer to take them somewhere fun afterward!
Your Children's Dentist in San Diego
In San Diego, Dental Express is your dental home. Specializing in children's dental services, we take our role in your little one's health care seriously.
We encourage parents to use the “practice” visit plan. Bring your kids with you. Let them enjoy the waiting area, play with the trains, and adjust to a new environment. The first time in the office is not a check-up, just a visit. Visiting the office before your child’s first actual visit helps introduce your child to a new building with new sights, sounds, and smells. The practice visit reduces anxiety and gets them excited to come back for the actual visit.
Starting with their first actual visit, we assess and anticipate their dental needs to build a plan that will keep their teeth healthy and happy for the long term. After the first visit, we recommend two appointments per year for regular dental cleanings and checkups.
When to Start Brushing Your Child's Teeth
The AAPD states that you should begin brushing your child's teeth as soon as their first tooth comes in.
But be proactive!
You can start a daily dental routine for your baby before their teeth come in.
Start rubbing their gums with a comfortable washcloth or soft toothbrush every day to build the habit, so you're ready when their teeth start coming in.
To minimize the risk of cavities, brush your baby's teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day using a soft-bristled brush. Make sure the brush has a small head with a large handle.
As for the amount of toothpaste to use, a rice-sized amount will do the trick before three years of age.
When they're between three and six years old, you can bump it up to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Once they're old enough, it's essential to teach your little ones the right way to brush their teeth.
You may have to guide them while brushing until they get the hang of it. Children usually don't have the coordination to do it themselves until around six years old.
Electric toothbrushes are an excellent way to make up for the lack of coordination. They're easy for kids to operate and don't require as much movement.
Soon enough, you'll be able to step back and supervise them as they become their own dental care professionals!
We provide all of our patients with education on infant and toddler best practices and tips on how to fight cavities at home, empowering you to create a healthy dental environment outside the office.
Getting your kids excited about the dentist is no easy task. It takes a lot of time and effort.
We know you fight the uphill battle at home. Trust us with your children's dental care. We'll make sure that by the time your little one leaves our office, they'll be excited to come back and see us again!