Following is the second in a three-part series about children’s dental care. For part one, visit The Mountaineer online at www.drum.army.mil.
First dental visit
As soon as your child’s first tooth appears, it’s time to schedule a dental visit.
The American Dental Association recommends that the first dental visit take place within six months after the first tooth appears, but no later than a child’s first birthday. Don’t wait for them to start school or until there's an emergency. Get your child comfortable today with healthy mouth habits.
Although the first visit is mainly for the dentist to examine your child’s mouth and to check growth and development, it’s also about your child being comfortable.
To make the visit positive:
*Consider making a morning appointment, when children tend to be rested and cooperative.
*Keep any anxiety or concerns you have to yourself. Children can pick up on your emotions, so emphasize the positive.
*Never use a dental visit as a punishment or threat.
*Never bribe your child.
*Talk with your child about visiting the dentist.
During this visit, you can expect the dentist to do the following:
*Inspect for oral injuries, cavities or other problems.
*Let you know if your child is at risk of developing tooth decay.
*Clean your child’s teeth and provide tips for daily care.
*Discuss teething, pacifier use or thumb-sucking habits.
*Discuss treatment, if needed, and schedule the next check-up.
Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime. Knowing how to handle a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving and losing your child’s permanent tooth. For all dental emergencies, it’s important to take your child to the dentist or an emergency room as soon as possible.
Here are some tips if your child experiences a common dental emergency:
*For a knocked-out tooth, keep it moist at all times. If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If that’s not possible, place it in between your child’s cheek and gum, or in milk. Call your dentist right away.
*For a cracked tooth, immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Put cold compresses on the face to keep any swelling down.
*If your child bites his tongue or lip, clean the area gently and apply a cold compress.
*For toothaches, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between the teeth. Do not put aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues.
*For objects stuck in the mouth, try to gently remove with floss, but do not try to remove it with sharp or pointed instruments.
Sucking is a natural reflex, and infants and young children may suck on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects. It may help them relax or make them feel safe or happy. Most children stop sucking by age 4.
If your child continues to thumb suck that after the permanent teeth have come in, it can cause problems with tooth alignment and your child’s bite. The frequency, duration and intensity of a habit will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.
If you are worried about your child’s sucking habits, talk to your dentist or consult your child’s pediatrician.
See the next issue of The Mountaineer for the third part in the series.