Children’s Dentistry in Medford, OR

laugh-1100456_640Many parents may wonder whether they should bring a child to the dentist early on in life. After all, some of them may think, the baby teeth eventually fall out anyway, so is it really that important to bring a child to the dentist? Absolutely, it is, and here at Siskiyou Smiles, we want to do everything we can to ensure that your child’s smile is healthy and strong from the very beginning of his or her life.

The baby teeth, although temporary, serve a very important role in maintaining the appearance of your child’s smile and reserving spaces in the mouth for the permanent teeth that will come in later in life. In addition, a child learns to speak, eat, and engage in other activities during the time that the baby teeth are in his or her mouth, so maintaining a healthy smile—even with the baby teeth—is an important part of the child’s dental health.

When should I begin?

The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry both recommend that the first dental visit should be within six months of the first tooth erupting or by the child’s first birthday. Dental visits earlier than this can be overly traumatic for a child who is unable to understand what is going on; on the other hand, waiting too much later than this could result in the development of poor dental hygiene habits or even the development of tooth decay.

What should I expect?

The first visit to the dentist can be daunting to a young child. For this reason, we attempt to be as transparent as possible so you can explain the process beforehand. Typically, the first visit will be an abbreviated visit and will not involve a great deal of in-depth treatment. It’s actually more of a way to help your child get used to the idea of dentist visits in order to lay a foundation for future visits.

If your child is particularly nervous or scared, we may ask you to sit in the dentist’s chair and hold him or her on your lap. This will provide reassurance to him or her and will help him or her to understand that a visit to the dentist’s office is nothing to be afraid of.

If your child is emotionally mature enough to handle brief periods of separation from you, we may ask you to wait in the waiting room while we interact with your child. This helps us to build a relationship with him or her and helps the child to understand that dentist visits are a normal routine part of everyday life.

On the first visit, we will perform some very basic examinations of the teeth and gums. Depending on a number of factors—including but not limited to, your child’s age, maturity level, and the condition of his or her teeth—we may seek to take some X-rays as well. The X-rays will help us to see the incoming adult teeth, which are still under the gums; in addition, they assist us in locating and diagnosing any decay which may be present.

Finally, we will spend some time with you, educating you on the proper dental care for your child’s teeth and answering any questions you (or your child!) may have. It is our goal to assist you and your child in establishing healthy dental hygiene habits as early in life as possible.

What can I do to prepare my child?

It’s always best to spend some time preparing your child for his or her first visit. We recommend talking about the dentist’s office and explaining to the child why it is important to regularly see a dental professional. Taking a short “field trip” to the dentist’s office a few days prior to the appointment will help the child to become more familiar and comfortable with the facilities.

It’s a good idea to visit your local library and check out a few books about visiting the dentist. Reading these with your child can be very helpful in explaining the process and can help answer any questions that you may not have thought of.

Finally, children relate to their parents, so you should spend some time telling your child about your own visits to the dentist. Make sure to frame these stories in a positive light, and make sure that your child understands that a trip to the dentist’s office is nothing to worry about.

What can I do to assist in my child’s dental health?

Here at Siskiyou Smiles, we often are asked what parents can do to help their children keep a healthy and happy smile. The largest factor in a child’s dental health will be the level of tooth decay present. Typically tooth decay—at least in a young child—is directly related to two things: first, the brushing habits of the child; and second, the amount of sugary snacks the child regularly eats.

Work with your child to establish a regular dental care routine. Explain to him or her how important it is to keep the teeth clean and what can happen when this does not occur.

Just as importantly, remember that the sugar in sweet foods reacts with the naturally occurring fauna in your child’s mouth to create deterioration of the tooth surfaces. In simple terms, this means that the bacteria living in the mouth will digest the sugar in the foods your child eats; as this occurs, a side effect is acid produced by the bacteria. This acid works to break down tooth enamel and leads to an increased occurrence of cavities.

Try limiting the amount of sugar your child eats. Further, insist that he or she vigorously rinse out his or her mouth after eating a sugary snack in order to reduce the amount of sugar left in the mouth. This will go a long way towards helping to keep your child’s smile strong and healthy.

With the proper preparation, your child’s first visit to the dentist need not be a traumatic affair. Here at Siskiyou Smiles, we look forward to establishing a lifelong relationship with you, and with your child. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.