5 Tips to Prevent Your Child Having Dental Phobia
As a new parent, I know all about being thrown in the deep end and as soon as one challenge is under control, another one seems to pop up. Learning about the best way to introduce cleaning your child’s teeth and dental check ups is one of them. Hopefully my son won’t be scared of dentists! Here’s some tips that will help get your child started on the right path to looking after their oral health for life.
Start early: as soon as the first baby tooth appears, introduce them to their toothbrush by holding it and playing with it (we found during bath time worked well).
Be consistent: at least once a day make brushing teeth part of their routine and be sure to do it everyday, they’ll eventually get into the habit of doing it. We found that it worked well to incorporate it into our son’s bedtime routine just after he had put his pyjama’s on. Be sure to brush their teeth after their milk feed. You also don’t need to use children’s toothpaste until they’re able to spit (around the age of 24 months), water is fine until that point.
Make it fun: show your child how to do it and they’re likely to copy you. Let them also brush your teeth, but watch out for your gag reflex as they can often miss your teeth and shove it down your throat instead! Sing songs and get them a colourful toothbrush with bright colours or a character on it so they are fascinated with it and enjoy the experience. Just like with eating, never force them. If they don’t quite complete their teeth cleaning each night, not to worry, just make it consistently part of their routine and keep making the experience enjoyable. They’ll eventually get it.
Eat good food: a well balanced diet goes a long way to looking after your teeth and this is no different for your children. Three main meals and a set morning and afternoon tea break (rather than grazing throughout the day) means there will be less acid building up on their teeth, hence less decay. If they have poor oral health as a child, it is common for them to have problems as an adult because the damage has already started. Avoid fruit juices and stick to water instead. Snack such as cheese and a piece of fruit (offering just the right amount of natural sugar) are great alternatives to highly refined packaged foods.
Bring them with you: a great way to get them comfortable with the dental environment is by bringing them with you to your regular check up and clean appointments. This gives them a chance to become familiar with the dentist and the environment so when it comes to them having to get in the chair and open their mouth (around the age of 3) they won’t be gritting their teeth shut. This only works if you’ve got a friendly dentist who is good with kids. Talk to your dentist about your child’s first visit, we invite you to visit us or find a paediatric dentist through websites like the Australian Dentists Directory. Most dentists have reviews on True Local and Google+ which offer good insights into their patient care, so do your research before you take your child. Family and friend’ may also have a good dentist to recommend.
Websites with good articles about caring for your child’s oral health include:
- The Australian Dental Associations ‘Baby Teeth’ website
- Australian and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry
Dr Andrew See