At Central Arkansas Family Dentistry,
we know children need to develop positive oral hygiene habits
from toddlerhood to encourage a lifetime of good health.
Having positive,fun dental visits from an early age is vital!
So, how do we make dental visits enjoyable for kids?
We are a family practice
and welcome patients
0-101 years old!
When kids and parents all have the same dentist,
it makes dental visits more fun!
When is the best time to begin taking my child to the dentist?
We have found it works best to bring children for their first dental visit between the ages of 1 and 2. This gives Dr. Heard a chance to make sure that all teeth and oral structures are developing normally and to catch any problems, such as cavities, while they are still very small and easy to correct. At that first visit, depending on the child’s personality, we typically take 2 x-rays, do a brief cleaning, and examine the mouth and teeth. We always make sure that the child has a good time, gets to watch movies, and leaves with toys or stickers and a new toothbrush. For those children who may be nervous or suspicious (we get blamed for the shots at the Doctor’s office), we only do what they are comfortable with. The most important thing at these early visits is to establish a relationship with the child and to show them that coming to the dentist is quick, easy, and doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t take many regular visits for even the most nervous child to learn that coming to our office is actually fun! These early visits also give you an important opportunity to ask Dr. Heard any questions that you have about your child’s teeth, diet, thumb-sucking, or eating habits. For older children, after age 5 or 6, we also complete a fluoride treatment which greatly helps reduce your child’s chances of developing cavities. Children who come to the dentist at an early age are much less likely to experience fear or anxiety, and also less likely to have dental problems in the future. After coming several times and getting very comfortable with Dr. Heard, our staff, and the great environment here at our office, if your child does one day need dental work, it can be done without any fear or anxiety for your child, and that is important to us!
When should my child be getting his or her teeth?
Most kids begin getting their first teeth around 6 months of age, however this is only an average and many children will have them much sooner or much later, there is a lot of variation from child to child. This also applies to losing baby teeth, when permanent teeth begin coming in (usually around 6 years old). Most children will have all 20 baby teeth by the time they are 3 years old, and will not lose their last baby tooth until they are 10 to 12 years old. The important thing is that your child’s teeth are healthy and developing normally, not where they are compared to the averages. We use x-rays to assess the growth and development of teeth before they erupt, to have a head start correcting any problems.
When should I begin brushing my child’s teeth?
It’s a good idea to begin cleaning your baby’s mouth and gums with a wet washcloth wrapped around your finger before any teeth erupt, then when teeth do begin erupting, the washcloth will work fine until they are old enough to tolerate a soft, infant toothbrush. Often using a tasty (sugar-free, of course) infant toothpaste will help motivate your child to enjoy the transition from washcloth to brush. The most important time of day to brush your child’s teeth (and yours too) is right before bedtime. It is critical that your child not have any snacks or drinks (even milk) after this last brushing, the sugar and acid left on the teeth all night are the most common cause of early, and often severe, decay.
What kind of toothpaste is best to use for my kids?
This is an important one, and the answer depends on the age and development of your child. For infants and kids under the age of 2, you should be using “infant” toothpaste or “children’s” toothpaste with NO FLUORIDE (if young children repeatedly swallow toothpaste with fluoride, the levels of fluoride build up in their body, and can harm permanent tooth development). When your child can consistently spit out all the toothpaste he or she is using (for most kids this is between the ages of 3 and 6), you are ready for toothpaste WITH FLUORIDE. Most toothpaste available at the store for kids falls into this category, which should make it easy to find a flavor that your kids like. Using fluoridated toothpaste when they are ready greatly helps to prevent cavities and keeps your kids healthy!