February is National Children’s Dental Health Month!

Yes, we know. There is a month or a day for everything. National Hug Day, National Broccoli Day, there are so many that we can celebrate something every day. We tend to embrace the ones we relate to (like National Chocolate Day) and ignore the ones we don’t (like National Mosquito Day). Well this is different. This is a month where we should all be focusing on making sure the children in our lives are getting the right dental education and proper dental care. This goes for ALL children. Your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, even the children of your friends and co-workers. A dental home is vital to the long term health of every individual, no matter what the age.

In a recent survey commissioned by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, only 9% of parents had knowledge of the dental home concept. A dental home means having an ongoing relationship with a primary dental care provider in which oral health care is delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible and family-centered manner. For years the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended the idea of a medical home. This is an extension of that into the dental office. To me, this means finding a dental office you know and trust, and helping your child grow to learn and trust them also.

Brushing, flossing, fluoride, and regular dental check-ups should all begin by age 1. That first visit is like a “well baby checkup”. Your child can be screened for early signs of decay, problems with emerging teeth, and the effectiveness of their home care. This visit also gets your child acclimated to the office in a low key, non-threatening manner. During this visit and each succeeding visit, the parents will receive valuable information involving their child’s oral care. Issues that are dealt with include eruption timing, teething, brushing, flossing, fluoride use, pacifiers, thumb sucking, nursing, bottle and “sippy”cup use, nutrition and many more.

Many of us grew up nervous or even terrified of dental treatment. This may lead many parents to avoid subjecting their children to these same situations. To their credit, most children these days are more comfortable at the dentist then their parents are. To insure a good dental visit for your child, here are some tips. Don’t let the child see, hear or feel your anxiety. Treat the visit as a positive and enjoyable outing. Never use a dental visit as a punishment or threat. Don’t bribe your child to behave; they may wonder what is so bad about this place that a reward is warranted. Bring your child during their best time. This is usually in the morning when they are rested, fed and most cooperative.

Finally, talk to your child about what to expect. Act excited about having their teeth checked, getting a ride in the dental chair and meeting the dental team. There are many “First Dental Visit” books and videos available to help you prepare your child for this important appointment. If you need help finding the right resources, call your dental home for advice. If you don’t have a dental home, we’re available and prepared to make you and your children feel welcome and comfortable. (269)792-2220.  You can read more about dentistry for your child on our website children’s page:  https://brucesextondds.com/kids.html

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Bruce

p.s. Please feel free to pass a copy of this blog on to anyone who would find it helpful!