Did you know that there is now a mobile app that encourages kids to brush their teeth through playing a game? The game, called “Toothsavers,” has kids brush their teeth twice a day in order to rescue fairy tale characters from an evil cavity sorceress. Says Gary Price, chief executive officer of the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation, “I look forward to seeing families embrace the app as both a teaching tool, and a way to monitor their daily toothbrushing routines.”
Making sure your kids’ teeth are healthy is important. About 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have cavities in their teeth. Left untreated, cavities can have a lasting impact, whether they are in primary or permanent teeth. Here are three things you need to know about visiting pediatric dentists.
1. Look for Pediatric Dentists
After dentists receive their doctorate, they can continue on for two years of postdoctoral training so as to specifically focus on diagnosing and treating pediatric patients. Along with a focus on preventive dentistry, this training includes education in child psychology, which makes it easier for the dentist to understand your child’s fears, and be able to assuage them. Even if you don’t choose a pediatric dentist, look for someone who has a good track record of working with kids. Online reviews can be a useful tool in checking how other parents rate their children’s experience.
2. Children’s Dental Care Often Focuses on Prevention
As a parent, it can be tempting to overlook the issue of cavities in baby teeth. After all, they’ll just fall out, right? Keeping healthy baby teeth is important, though, for several reasons. The Boston Globe points out that, “if left untreated, the infection can damage other teeth and even invade the face and body.” Untreated cavities can also be painful. If the cavity causes the tooth to rot and fall out too early, it may create spacing problems for future teeth. Family dentists will not only fix any problems in the child’s mouth, but they will also advise them, and you, about good habits in order to prevent future issues. Constantly sipping on juice, for example, can quickly lead to tooth decay. Instead, reserve sugary drinks for mealtime or special treats only.
3. What to Do With Children Who are Afraid
About 20% of adults experience such anxiety over going to the dentist that they will only visit in case of an emergency. Often, this anxiety begins in childhood after bad experiences with a dentist. If your child seems especially afraid of the dentist, it might help them to visit before their appointment, in order to become familiar with the environment. You might also want to look into whether your dentist offers sedation. Sedation dentists will administer an oral sedative that reduces fear and anxiety without eliminating consciousness.
What do you look for in pediatric dentists? Let us know in the comments.