Dental care is important for adults, but children need dental care as well. In this report, Dr. Blake Perkins of Dental Sleep Medicine in Vancouver, Washington explains
Dr. Perkins suggests that children should see dentists about the time their first tooth appears. Parents can learn how to take care of their children’s teeth. The visit can set the stage for a child to have a positive dental experience later.
It is important to prepare a child for the first visit to a dentist. Dr. Perkins says that a parent “can make [the visit] a great experience or . . . absolutely torpedo that experience for the child.” It is important to talk about the visit in a positive way. Parents should let their children know that something exciting is about to happen. Parents should avoid any buzzwords that might scare the child.
What happens on that first visit depends on the child, Dr. Perkins explains. If a child is compliant, as many are, a dentist can take x-rays (if needed), brush the teeth, apply fluoride, floss the teeth, teach the children a little about tooth care, and leave the child smiling. Some children are reluctant to even sit in a dental chair. In a situation like that, the visit is short. The child will learn about a toothbrush, meet the dental hygienist, and plan to come back in a few weeks for a slightly longer visit. Dr. Perkins calls them “happy visits.”
Parents can help out at home by brushing their teeth with their child. Dr. Perkins warns that some parents assume too early that their children have tooth brushing all figured out. In fact, children don’t develop really good brushing dexterity until sometime between ages eight and ten. So parents need to stay on top of the situation and make sure that their children are brushing as they should. Dr. Perkins suggests letting children brush their teeth and then brushing their teeth again with them. Parents should model the kind of brushing they expect from their children. The point is to build it into a good experience for the child.
J. Blake Perkins, DDS, is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. He is the owner of Today's Family Dentistry of Vancouver, Washington, and he is an expert in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). He spoke with Sleep Better TV, providing online sleep breathing disorder video news content. Sleep Better TV is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.