Do you know Dr. Garrett? He’s one of our pediatric dentists, and he’s passionate about making the dentist’s office a fun, welcoming, and comfortable environment for kids and their parents. He chose to pursue pediatric dentistry because of his interest in disease control, pain relief, education, and prevention—things that are more prominent in pediatric dentistry than other oral health specialties.
Dr. Garrett sat down with Amy Morgan to discuss three topics and misconceptions surrounding pediatric dentistry and children’s oral health and hygiene. While oral health can feel daunting, complicated, and overwhelming, it’s important to remember that taking a step in the right direction is always better than a step in the wrong direction, no matter how small the step is. By taking baby steps and making incremental changes to your child’s oral health habits, you can set them up to have a happy and healthy smile throughout their life.
When observing your child’s diet through the lens of their oral health, it’s critical to understand how the frequency at which they snack on carbohydrates and refined sugars affects their teeth. In short, carbohydrates and sugars feed bacteria inside the mouth, which ultimately leads to tooth decay. By limiting the amount of carbohydrates and sugars your child eats, you can help keep their teeth healthy for years into the future.
Before we cause any confusion, we need to make something clear: We are not telling you to be overly restrictive or throw away all of your carb-heavy snacks. Instead, we want to emphasize the importance of context. If your child is a high-frequency snacker, you might try cutting out one or two of the snack events throughout the day. Or, you could substitute one of the snacks for something that isn’t carbohydrate-based, such as protein, dairy, vegetables, or whole-fruit-based snacks.
Making small changes to your child’s diet is often much simpler than a full dietary overhaul, and it leads to similar results. Monitoring your child’s diet through this lens doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think, and it can make a big difference for your child’s oral health.
Similar to dietary changes, many parents are under the illusion that maintaining their child’s dental hygiene is more elaborate than it really is. The truth is that little changes can make a big difference.
Many parents can get discouraged because—let’s be honest—children can be difficult sometimes. But we encourage you to keep your head up and remember that perfection is not the standard. It’s unrealistic to expect a three-year-old to stand still for two minutes while you thoroughly brush their teeth. Instead, you might consider changing your environment to yield an outcome that is satisfactory and less stressful for everyone. Try laying your child down while you brush their teeth. There’s a reason dentists have patients lie on their backs during appointments—it’s easier to see what we’re doing! The same is true for parents, and it’s important that parents have a visual understanding of how they are brushing their child’s teeth.
We also encourage parents to consider electric toothbrushes, which allow them to focus on placement rather than technique. You can hold the brush where it needs to be and navigate the teeth while the brush does the rest of the work for you. Little things that modify the environment of your oral hygiene experience with your kids can allow you to do a much better job. It doesn’t have to be a huge investment of time, money, or energy. Practically, we’re aiming for brushing your child’s teeth at least twice a day. Any child under the age of five should still be assisted when brushing, and children over five can begin visually supervised brushing.
The Dental Experience
There are several individual and cultural stigmas associated with dentistry, and many parents hold on to biases from their childhood and project them onto their own children. Several studies have shown that parental anxiety projects profoundly, and a child is more likely to have a bad dental experience if their parent did because the child can perceive the tension. We understand that your might have had a terrible dental experience, but we are here to change that for your child. In order for us to help make this change, we need your child to have a clean slate coming in. We work quickly and efficiently to ensure that your child is comfortable and has a pain-free experience at the dentist’s office.
Find More Resources
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