Dental Health Awareness

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February is National Children’s Dental Health Awareness month. If you have a little one, maybe you haven’t taken them in for their first teeth cleaning yet, or maybe you’ve been wondering when you should take them, or where you should go. Until a few weeks ago, I was raising my hand for ALL of these.

My son turned three last summer, so one of my first questions to my pediatrician was if it was time to take him to the dentist. I was actually surprised that he said we could wait until his fourth birthday since there weren’t any red flags, such as family history of dental issues. However, he also said it was our preference. We preferred not to wait, so we chose this year as our starting point for beginning the familiarity with the dentist and establishing this healthy habit.

Our doctor also gave us a list of dentists in our area he recommended. Naturally, they were all Pediatric Dentists. Honestly, I can’t remember if such a specialty existed when I was little, or maybe I just always went to see a Family Dentist. I feel like so much has changed since we were kids! It wasn’t until I started calling around to make my son’s appointment that I realized our insurance actually does NOT cover Pediatric Dentists, as it’s considered a specialty.

So, this leads me to my next point: Make sure you have first added your little one to your insurance/dental plan. Then, call to find out what type of coverage you have.

Our particular coverage allows for him to go to a Family Dentist where there is a Pediatric Dentist on staff. At first, I admit I was a little bummed, but honestly, we had an amazing experience! Our hygienist tailored the visit to make my son feel comfortable for this first cleaning. We just did a regular teeth brushing and exam. He was okay with the exam chair being in the upright position, as pictured, but he did not like when the hygienist started to lay him back. Thus, we didn’t do that and it was okay. I was very thankful for such kind staff who were familiar with working with children. For us, there were also no x-rays taken this time because of his age.

Dental Awareness

While we were there, I asked our dentist a few questions about children’s dental health. These are just one professional’s opinions, but this is what he shared with me:

  • Average age of a child’s 1st dental check-up is 2 to 5 years old.
  • Brush your child’s teeth with a pea-sized amount of non-fluoride toothpaste until age 4. At age 4, you may switch to regular fluoride-based toothpaste {as long as they know NOT to swallow it}.
  • It is okay {and good for them} to use a children’s formula of mouth-wash, such as ACT brand, as long as they know NOT to swallow it.
  • Even though they are young, we should still be helping them brush twice-a-day AND floss. We can be teaching them what we are doing, but we should still be helping them, at this young age, to ensure they are properly brushing & flossing.

 

For more information about caring for your child’s teeth, please see the American Dental Associations’s (ADA) website with their campaign for babies & kids called Mouth Healthy. From this site, you can access tons of information on establishing healthy habits for your entire family, fun activities & videos for the little ones, and you can even search for ADA member dentists in your area!

All of this information is just my opinion, but I am just one momma trying to set a good example for my little one! Believe me, a visit to the dentist is no picnic for me, but I smiled and told my little guy how much fun I had at my teeth cleaning the week after he had his! How about you? Have you taken your little ones to their first dental checkup yet? What tips do you have to make it a smooth visit? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent advice! We took Lucas for the first time when he was around 3 and unfortunately he has pretty bad teeth (very close together and susceptible to cavities)… so with Logan we decided to take him at 18 months when his big brother had a cleaning so he could see how it’s done. Shockingly we were actually able to have his teeth cleaned too!!

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