Dr. Helaine Smith and Dr. Shili Feng are excited to welcome more and more young families to Pound Ridge and the surrounding areas. Dr. Feng, who is a mother of two young children, knows the struggles when it comes to at-home oral hygiene, and would like to share some of her oral care routines and tips.
When should your child first visit the dentist?
Ideally, a child should visit a dentist by 1 year old. This may seem very early, considering some children might not even have teeth by then! However, pediatric dentistry is not only about looking for cavities, it’s really about anticipatory guidance. What this means is giving you, as a parent, tips and tricks on when to brush, how to brush, what toothpaste to use, if vitamins with fluoride should be given, the best snacks and drinks to give your children, when to stop using pacifiers and bottles, when you intervene to stop habits, when to start flossing, to identify tongue or lip ties, to identify if they have the correct number and sequence of baby teeth, etc. It’s really about catching things early and taking care of the child’s mouth as a whole before things turn into potentially bigger issues. All recommendations are given based on child’s age, their development, and their environment. We really hope for children to simply have check ups every six months until they graduate from pediatrics and start seeing an adult dentist. The more likely they come in for preventative services, the less likely they are to need treatment. The less treatment children receive at a young age, the more likely they have a happy and healthy relationship with their dentist and their teeth.
What should I expect at my child’s first dental visit?
A child’s first visit often involves a lot of anticipatory guidance, which was mentioned above and is based on their age and development. It involves a multitude of questions about the child’s medical history, diet, habits, oral hygiene, developmental milestones they’ve reached, precious accidents that involved the mouth, and any concerns the parent may have coming into the visit. Subsequently, the dentist will perform a comprehensive exam, a cleaning and fluoride varnish. Often times with behavior and underlying medical conditions, some aspects of the visit may be a little different to cater to the needs of the child. For instance, a child with autism who has sensory issues may not be comfortable with a tool that make a loud noise, so other methods may be considered to have the child complete the visit but also be comfortable.
Why Choose Pound Ridge Cosmetic Dentistry as your Pediatric Dentist?
It’s always nice and convenient to have all members of the family be seen in one office, so it’s incredible that at Pound Ridge Cosmetic Dentistry all members of the family including children can be seen. General dentists’ training in pediatrics is limited to their dental school experiences.
A pediatric dentist has at least two years of additional training in a hospital based or hospital affiliated program that is rigorous and limited to seeing children, including children with medical and special needs. It often includes various new techniques and materials for delivering the best options for your children with minimal trauma as necessary. Because pediatric dentists treat children all day every day, they are exposed to all different behaviors and conditions that general dentists often aren’t well versed in. Pediatric dentists are trained to be patient, mindful of a child’s behavior and explore options that are best for your child and your family depending on factors we discuss. General dentists often refer children to pediatric dentists if they cannot cooperate or have behavioral issues or if the child needs treatment to be rendered and are not equipped to deliver it. It would be best to bypass all this by having your child seen at a young age (1 year old) so we can monitor all their conditions and so they can build a relationship with their pediatric dentist and trust them when the time comes for treatment to be delivered. That’s what builds a healthy lifelong commitment to oral heath and positive experiences.
Brushing and Flossing
Before your child has teeth, you can use a wet washcloth or silicone finger toothbrush to massage the gums. Once teeth are visible, use a rice size toothpaste on a soft bristle toothbrush.
Make brushing a routine
Just like everything else, children like structure. Children will want to brush and floss once it is part of the routine.
Lift the upper lip gently and try to block the frenum from being brushed against.
Retract the lip, you can use the back of the toothbrush to block the tongue.
You can use regular dental floss or kid flossers, whichever is easier for you. Remember to set realistic goals. It is hard, but introduce the concept early, and your child will accept the floss. We recommend daily flossing once the adjacent teeth are in contact to prevent in-between cavities.
Make it fun!
A lot of times brushing can be a power struggle, especially when they are less than one year old. A good way to approach it is to make it fun, for example singing their favorite songs, counting numbers, and/or making funny noises. It is always a good idea to give positive reinforcement.
Lead by example! It can be fun for young children to have brushing/flossing sessions with mom or dad. You can bound by getting the sugar bugs out. For young children, a grown-up should always supervise brushing. You can let the child brush first, then take over and brush again to make sure all the “bugs” are out.
We recommend brushing 2 times a day for 2 minutes each time, but realistically, at a young age, 2 times a day will make any dentist happy.
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Sugar and Cavities
Make water your child’s favorite drink! Water washes away food particles and helps neutralize the acidity after eating.
The AAP recommends cow’s milk (whole for under 2 and skim or low fat for over 2). It is better to drink milk in an open cup. Try not to put milk in bottles and avoid putting your child to sleep with bottled milk. Baby bottle decay is scary but definitely preventable.
Juice, soda - All of these drinks contain lots of sugar in addition to acidity, which weakens the enamel and causes cavities. They have little nutrition and are packed with calories.
Bottle to Cup
The goal is to wean bottles by 12-18 months. Prolonged use of bottles and sippy cups can actually misshape the oral cavity, causing problems in speech, airway, sleep quality, and jaw and maxilla development. Instead, it is recommended to use an open cup when possible, and you can start as early as 6 months of age.
First Dental Visit
The ADA and AAP recommend that the first dental visit should occur within six months after the baby's first tooth appears, but no later than the child's first birthday. At Pound Ridge Cosmetic Dentistry, during your child’s first-ever dental appointment, we want your child to explore the dental setting. The chair that tilts back is pretty cool. Just as important as the checkup, we will be reviewing your child’s oral hygiene routine with you and give you our recommendations.
Routine Dental Visit
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends scheduling regular dental checkups, with the most common interval being every six months.
At Pound Ridge Cosmetic Dentistry, we would love to be part of you and your children’s dental home and we thank you for trusting us to be your dental care providers.
Tethered Oral Tissue
7 week old soundly sleeping after quick and easy laser procedure to release tethered oral tissue.