Early Childhood Care
At Southbrook Dental Group we believe that the easiest and most effective way to instill good oral health habits for life is to get an early start, so we do all we can to make a trip to the dentist fun and interesting for our youngest patients while promoting a positive attitude and establishing good dental hygiene habits that will last a lifetime.
Often first-time parents of small children will have questions or concerns about proper dental hygiene and good oral health practices, so we have collected the questions heard the most often about children’s dentistry in our Edmonton dental practice and provided answers. If you have a question that is not addressed here, please contact our office to learn more or to schedule an appointment.
Q. When should I start taking my child to the dentist?
A. Most children have started to grow primary teeth at 6 months to a year of age, so this is an excellent time to get started establishing good dental hygiene habits. If, however, you have any questions or concerns prior to 6 months, please feel free to contact us.
Q. Are early dental hygiene habits really that important?
A. Establishing good dental hygiene habits at a young age may be the most effective means of preventing the occurrence of dental problems later in life. Primary teeth play an important role in your child’s appearance, speech patterns and eating ability, as well as their developing self-confidence. Primary teeth have thinner enamel and problems can quickly develop and progress once they have started.
Q. How can I encourage my child to practice proper dental hygiene?
A. Very young children may not like brushing their teeth. Give them a role in the process by letting them choose their own toothbrush and brush their own teeth (be sure to point out any missed spots). Establish a schedule - morning and night - of brushing at the same time each day so that it becomes a habit. When children are young, it is important that parents have the primary role of brushing and flossing their children’s teeth. If your child is uncooperative, please call us so we can offer some suggestions.
Q. When should my child start brushing his or her teeth? Should I help?
A. Most children are ready to start learning how to care for their teeth by the age of 2 or 3, and the best way to help is to teach them the correct brushing methods. Demonstrate to your child the proper way to brush: Holding their toothbrush at an angle towards the teeth and gums and moving it back and forth with short strokes. Make sure your child brushes all surfaces of the teeth and gently brushes the tongue. In order to make sure that areas are not being missed, parents should be “touching up” or checking their children’s teeth. Once children acquire the dexterity to tie their own shoes, they are often able to properly brush and floss their teeth.
Q. What is childhood tooth decay and how can it be prevented?
A. Bacteria that is present in the mouth feeds on sugars that have been ingested and create acids that can damage or dissolve teeth. To avoid childhood tooth decay, give your child water in a bottle at bedtime rather than juice or milk. Both juice and milk will allow sugars to coat the teeth throughout the night and over time create tooth decay at an early age. For younger children always clean their teeth or gums after drinking breast milk or formula, especially prior to nighttime sleeps. Limit your child’s access to sweets and encourage him or her to brush after eating to remove bacteria and acids. Fluoride treatment can also strengthen teeth and help your child avoid tooth decay.
Q. My child sucks his thumb. Should I be concerned?
A. Thumb-sucking is fairly common in infants and children up to about age 4, but it can cause problems if it continues after permanent teeth begin to erupt, pushing them out of alignment or causing malformations to develop on the roof of the mouth. Thumb-sucking can also affect the position of your child’s lower and upper jaw, as well as your child’s speech.
Q. How can I help my child break the thumb-sucking habit?
A. Thumb-sucking is a comfort behaviour used to relieve anxiety. Scolding or confronting your child only acerbates the situation.
If thumb-sucking continues to be a problem, schedule a consultation at Southbrook Dental Group with one of our dentists. We will be happy to help!