Good habits start at one: Paediatric dentistry and your child

Good habits start at one: Paediatric dentistry and your child

As a busy centre of excellence for dentistry in West Sussex, Vitality felt it was high time for us to once again bring you a spotlight on the special needs of children’s teeth, the ins-and-outs of paediatric dentistry, and what good oral health means for your child.

How young should my child see the dentist?

You might be surprised to know that it’s recommended every child see the dentist by age one! While your little one may have only up to 8 teeth at this age- or even none at all- this crucial visit will lay the foundation for good health in the years to come. It’s the perfect age to check in with your paediatric dentist about your baby’s oral health, and get a firm [and personalised] game plan for their dental health as they develop, as well as address any existing concerns you may have about their oral health.

Why parents will benefit from a dentist’s knowledge, too

Brushing and caring for your own teeth is a completely different experience then helping your child, even if you have great oral health yourself. For example, the recommended two minutes twice a day for adults is too long for a child’s delicate growing gums, and the ideal routine will need to change and grow with them as their mouths change over time. Your dentist will assist you with creating the correct routine and technique at each age, as well as support you with a clear and sustainable timeline through their growth and help to soothe any concerns you may have about your child and their teeth. They will also assist you with all the tools needed to swap brushing their teeth from a traumatic fight every night to a bonding experience between you and your little one.

What dental issues are unique to children?

While there are some adult issues we don’t expect to see in children- for example, gum disease is typically only seen in adults- there are some issues unique to children’s dentistry which every parent needs to consider. Of course, the primary among these is the correct eruption of your child’s baby and adult teeth, ensuring they come through straight and clean, emerge fully from the gum, and minimizing the pain and discomfort associated with their growth for the child. Your child’s mouth also needs to be monitored for overcrowding of teeth, which may require braces to correct or even extraction of some teeth to ensure they develop a healthy mouth without pain and future potential disorders. Some young children also begin to grind their teeth, which your dentist can help you minimize.

By far the most issues we see in children’s teeth, however, is rotting and cavities caused by inadequate dental care. There is a regrettable persistent rumour that the health of children’s milk teeth ‘don’t matter’, as they will shed these for their adult teeth. Quite to the contrary, cavities and poor development of the milk teeth are highly indicative of future dental problems, as well as a sign of poor oral hygiene habits that will have a massive impact on your child’s future oral health.

How often should my child see the dentist?

Unless your child has specific issues, such as the need for teeth straightening through braces, they will typically need to see the dentist once a year for regular check-ups. Developing a solid routine of visiting the dentist is key to helping your child, not only with their childhood dental issues, but making the dentist a safe and comfortable experience for them throughout their life. This ensures they both feel empowered towards their own dental care as well as happy to approach dental specialists for any oral abnormalities or dental problems they detect throughout their lives- in short, establishing a happy, secure dental experience for them will impact their entire life meaningfully! This can be difficult for you as a parent if you have your own dental-related trauma or nervousness in the dental practice, but the great news is that it is more than possible to conquer these butterflies of your own! And, as the old saying goes, you can always ‘fake it til you make it’ too. Your little one’s health is more than worth it.

Help introduce your child to the dentist, not as a scary figure, but as a helpful health professional who wants the best for their health. You can do this through stories read to them in the weeks before a visit, or through research and understanding of looming dental procedures through videos and reputable sources with older children. Be open, honest and calm with them, and present oral health issues with a positive attitude to help them develop a great mindset and have a good lifelong dental experience.

Finding a great dentist to take a real interest in your children in West Sussex is as easy as picking up the phone and giving Vitality a call, so why not book your little one an appointment today? It will be the first step in a lifelong journey of good oral health for them and support you as a parent, too.

This article has been approved by

Dr. Arvin Mirzadeh BDS MJDF RCS (Eng)

Dental Surgeon and Practice Principal

GDC 83757