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The "unknown" is the scariest thing anyone can encounter, especially for children. Their imaginations run wild with ideas, and introducing them to something new, like going to the dentist, is not always easy.
If you are preparing to start taking your child to the dentist, and unsure how well they will handle the experience, Coastal Pediatric Dentistry is here to help. Here, your little ones can learn about good oral hygiene in a fun environment.
During a dental visit, the dental hygienist or assistant will review your child's medical history with you. This is to ensure that Dr. Hubbard and our staff are updated on the general health of your child so that we may review any factors that may affect your child's dental health. Your child's mouth will be examined for overall oral health and his/her teeth will be cleaned to remove plaque, which can lead to cavities and gum disease. After the cleaning, fluoride will be applied to the teeth to help protect and strengthen the weak areas against decay.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child's first visit to the dentist should occur by 12 months of age. This visit will enable Dr. Hubbard to evaluate your child and introduce you to proper oral hygiene. Diet, fluoride, finger and pacifier habits and tooth eruption will be discussed to insure optimal dental health.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check-up at least twice a year for most children. Some children need more frequent dental visits because of increased risk of tooth decay, poor oral hygiene, or unusual growth patterns. Dr. Hubbard will let you know the best appointment schedule for your child.
Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment time. Your children are encouraged to explore our interactive areas while we take care of some brief paperwork.
Bring an extra diaper and snack for your child. Also bring a favorite toy, blanket or other familiar object. This will help your child to know that the dental office is a comfortable and safe place.
The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. This visit gives your child an opportunity to meet the dentist in a non-threatening and friendly way.
Usually, most children will have had X-rays taken by the age of 5 or 6. Some children who may be at higher risk for dental
problems (for example, those prone to baby bottle tooth decay or those with cleft lip/palate) should have X-rays taken
earlier than others.
The AAPD recommends x-ray examination every six months for children with a high risk of cavities. Often x-rays can show weaknesses in the tooth structure that may not be visible with the naked eye. Children need x-rays more often than adults to stay current with the developments in their teeth, since children grow and develop at a much more rapid rate.
Cavities form when there is weakening in the mineral composition of the enamel of the tooth. Fluoride promotes the remineralization of these weak spots, therefore helping to prevent cavities.
Although a well-balanced diet is important in preventing cavities and to ensure good general health, cavities are not only the result of what children eat but also the frequency of meals. Frequent snacking without brushing leaves food on the teeth longer and increases the likelihood of a cavity developing. Additionally, frequent "sipping" on sugar-drinks (including juice) in a baby bottle or "sippy" cup can cause widespread dental cavities.
It is very important to maintain the health of the primary teeth. Neglected cavities can lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. Baby-teeth are important for proper chewing and eating, providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive smile.
Nitrous oxide or "Laughing Gas" is a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide. When inhaled, it has a calming effect on the patient and allows the patient to enjoy a more relaxed state which allows him/her to respond more favorably to dental treatment. It can be used on a mildly anxious child who is cooperative.
Sealants protect the surfaces of teeth with grooves and pits, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities are found. They are made of a tooth colored plastic. Sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. On average, sealants last for three years with proper maintenance. At every dental check-up, Dr. Hubbard will check the sealants, and make sure they are intact.
Space maintainers hold open the empty space left by a lost tooth. They prevent the teeth on either side of the missing tooth from drifting into the space. If the space is not maintained, then the permanent tooth could be blocked from coming into the arch.
You can find more pediatric dental questions and mythbusters here.