My Child Is Nervous About Going To The Dentist – What Should I Do?

This is very common, most children don’t enjoy going to the dentist, or are nervous about their appointment. This is true even if the appointment is for a checkup, not just treatment appointments.

An effective way to teach children the importance of good dental care and the importance of going to the dentist is to show them images of good teeth and bad teeth and ask for their opinion. This is easily done by going to Google and typing in “tooth decay” or “yellow teeth” and “healthy smile”, and clicking through to “Google images” to show your child the differences between good and bad oral health. An image is worth a thousand words, and children will be shocked at the state of some people’s teeth. Both in terms of aesthetics, and also in terms of confidence levels.

This is a very effective exercise, and one that can be repeated on more more regularly to remind children of the importance of their dental health. Children will need to follow an effective home dental care routine, which should be based on brushing for 2 minutes in the morning and again in the evening before bed. This is the most important dental care step, in addition to attending regular dental check up appointments. These will be scheduled by your dentist as recommended, usually every 6 or 12 month.s

Your dentist or pediatric dentist will also advise if an orthodontic assessment is recommended, and when to schedule this, along with providing a referral. Children can also feel unhappy about the prospect of wearing braces, although this is very common and it’s likely most children will have a friend or friends who already wear braces. Children now have new choices including Invisalign clear braces, although these are only available privately, unlike traditional metal braces which are available on the NHS free of charge.

If your child is nervous, you should also allow plenty of time to travel to your practice, as rushing adds unnecessary stress to the event. Your child can also listen to music or read a magazine to relax. If your child is very young the dental technology can provide a welcome distraction, such as going up in the dentist chair, wearing safety glasses and looking at all the instruments and equipment. Most dentists are very child friendly and will also provide a sticker or other reward for attending.

During the appointment, the parent or carer will be asked to join them in the treatment room. This will reassure your child and you will be able to discuss dental care and any concerns or treatment with the dentist. Any individual advice will also be provided after the checkup or treatment. This may include custom brushing advice, or information on dental products to use.

If your child has fluoride applied they will need to wait for around one hour before eating or drinking, in order to allow the fluoride application to provide full benefit. Your practice may also provide free samples which are always popular with children. This includes travel sized dental care products such as toothpaste and mouth wash. Use these tips to inform, reassure and encourage your child.

Dental Care Tips For Young Children

Establishing good oral care habits are essential for a family. This means leading by example and knowing which products and techniques to use, along with knowing when to go to the dentist.

Children should start brushing their teeth as soon as their first tooth comes through, as milk teeth need to be cared for in the same way as adult teeth. A child friendly toothbrush can be used which is safe in terms of size and dimensions, and the correct toothpaste should be used for the child’s age group. This is important as toothpaste for different age groups will contain varying amounts of fluoride, so children need to use the correct product for their age group.

Children should brush their teeth two times per day, once in the morning and once in the evening before bed. If a child has a bottle of milk or any other drink other than water, they should also brush their teeth again after, if they are going to bed. This is because milk contains lactose which is a type of sugar which can lead to the build up of bacteria, plaque, gum disease and tooth decay. Even though a bed time drink is comforting, it should ideally be phased in earlier prior to going to bed, and children must brush their teeth after.

Children can learn by being shown, or watching their parents. If a parent or carer stands behind the child, they can also help to show the brushing technique more effectively than from the front face on. Children need to spend a full two minutes, both in the morning and again in the evening. Flossing is best left until a child is older.

Children need to brush as soon as their first tooth has come through, and continue even when teething. Brushing can actually soothe teething pains by gently massaging the gums. An egg timer can be used to ensure the full 2 minute brushing time is completed, or playing a favourite song is an entertaining way to brush.

With regards to going to the dentist, a child should register at their parents dental practice once their first tooth has come through, or even earlier than this. They will then need to attend for checkups as advised by your dentist, generally every 6 or 12 months.

As children get older, the dentist will apply a layer of fluoride on some biting surfaces for added protection. Dentists can also evaluate the need for orthodontics by looking at spacing, crowding, crooked teeth and the size of the upper and lower arches. By attending regular checkups, any required treatment or orthodontic treatment can be planned and commenced at the optimal time, which will lead to the best possible results. Orthodontic treatment can be started at the age of 7 years old.

Children are entitled to free NHS dental checkups and treatment with an NHS dentist, including orthodontic care. If you attend a private dentistry practice, they may see children free of charge if you are registered with them, until the age of 11 or 12.

Manual Or Powered – Which Is Best For Family Dental Care?

Dentists recommend that children use manual toothbrushes until around the age of 8 – 10, to allow them to master the brushing technique, before moving on to powered toothbrushes.

Additionally, powered brushes need to be used carefully to ensure gums are not irritated, over time powered brushing can easily irritate gums and cause receding gums. For this reason, full awareness needs to be exercised when using this technology.

Powered brushing is superior compared to manual brushing in terms of performance, but for the reasons outlined can be too effective. It’s also possible to combine the two methods, either on a daily or weekly basis. For example manual brushing can be used in the mornings, and powered brushing in the evenings, when there is more food and bacteria to clean off the surfaces of your teeth.

If a powered toothbrush is used for a child, it should be a specific toothbrush designed for children, or a toothbrush with a small brush head, not a full adult sized brush head. Brush heads should also be replaced as per directions, every 1, 2 or 3 months. In the meantime they should be rinsed after each use and allowed to air dry. They can also be rinsed with mouth wash for superior cleaning, and brush heads can also be disinfected using a UV cleaner provided by the manufacturer. Brushes should always be allowed to air dry, to ensure bacteria is not encouraged. Covers should only be used on dry toothbrushes, or temporarily for example when travelling.

When choosing a toothbrush you should look at the styles and designs available, and the range and costs of replacement brush heads. You should also look at the power options and types of chargers which come with the brushes.

Powered options are also available for flossing and interdental cleaning, this includes water and air flossers however these are strong and require careful use, for this reason they are unsuitable for children and should only be used by adults on their own teeth and gums.

The importance of twice daily brushing cannot be underestimated, and is vital to maintain your child’s dental health. Scheduling and attending regular dental checkups is also vital. These should be scheduled every 6 – 12 months as advised by your dentist.

Your dentist will also be able to evaluate your child’s toothbrushing efforts and advise on areas and techniques to focus on if necessary. For older children and adults, hygiene appointments can also be scheduled for cleanings, these can also be done every 6 – 12 months as required.

Your dentist will be able to demonstrate the correct brushing technique, to ensure your child is brushing correctly and effectively. A smile is an asset and an effective daily routine can enhance and maintain your child’s smile. Some parents also set up rewards for daily brushing, although these should not be any sweet or sugary treats.

Contact your dentist for advice and recommendations on family dental care. Your dentist will be pleased to help and can also provide free samples for toothpaste, mouth washes and other dental products.