Children have particular needs for their developing teeth which move beyond the normal goals of preventing tooth decay and gum disease. When you bring your child in, Dr. Ertl will discuss a care and prevention plan with you which addresses these needs.
When do children need to start seeing Dr. Ertl?
We advocate brining your child to the dentist as early as possible, and definitely by the time they turn two. The goal of your child’s first visit may simply be to get them comfortable with a dental setting and the equipment. If they are ready, we may do a quick examination. Visiting us early in childhood allows Dr. Ertl to examine your child’s teeth and gums to make sure there are no early problems.
What kind of care do infants need?
We believe that good oral hygiene starts before your toddler’s teeth are visible. Before bedtime, and after meals, parents should wipe the gums of their infants with a moist cloth. After your tike’s teeth emerge, brush them gently with a very soft toothbrush. Please also ask if a fluoride supplement is necessary (this treatment is affordable and can strengthen your child’s teeth to resist decay.)
What kind of care do children need?
Children’s dental care emphasizes tooth decay and gum disease prevention, similar to an adult’s dental care. Some children are especially prone to tooth decay. This may be due to diets that are heavy on sweets, poor dental hygiene or oral flora (bacteria) that makes them more susceptible to decay. But children also have particular needs:
- A child’s teeth should be brushed with a fluoride toothpaste two times each day. Brushing before bedtime is especially important, but brushing in the morning and after eating is recommended whenever possible. Dr. Ertl suggests that parents supervise younger children with their brushing until they are capable of properly doing it themselves.
- Your child’s toothbrush should have soft bristles, and you should replace it when the bristles begin to show wear.
- Children only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their brush, but it can be difficult for them to avoid swallowing toothpaste. Train them to use small amounts of paste, and talk to them about how to rinse and spit; caution them not to swallow any of the paste (you can make a game out of this).
- Once your child receives their permanent teeth, they need to floss each night before bed. You can train them to floss when they being losing their teeth. It’s important they learn to floss correctly, so ask Dr. Ertl or our hygiene staff to show your child proper flossing techniques.
- In some cases, Dr. Ertl may recommend fluoride supplements. This is normally a wash that your child will be instructed to rinse with in the office during a regular visit. Fluoride helps teeth to resist decay.
- If your teen develops crowded or crooked teeth, Dr. Ertl will discuss with you whether braces or extraction are recommended.
- Dr. Ertl recommends that children (ages 2 to 18) be scheduled for an appointment twice a year. These visits will include a thorough examination and a professional cleaning by Dr. Ertl or his dental hygienist. Bringing your child in for regular visits helps us to spot problems before they get large (and expensive).
What prevention is possible with regular dental visits?
We recommend regular dental visits for two important outcomes: to give your child’s teeth a very thorough cleaning on a regular basis, and to examine their teeth and gums for signs of serious problems. Children can resist cavities with good diet and proper dental hygiene. Dr. Ertl can discuss specific methods with you to fight tooth decay, including fluoride treatments and special sealants for children’s permanent molars.
Why is care and prevention important for children?
In both children and adults, dental problems tend to worsen when ignored or left untreated. When your child sees us regularly, minor issues won’t have a chance to become major problems. Good hygiene and regular dental visits cost less in the long run, too. In our experience, people who skip regular appointments end up paying more the long run, because they often end up requiring extensive and costly procedures to repair or replace damaged teeth. In children, we believe that teaching them good oral hygiene and getting them in the habit of seeing a dentist regularly, sets them on the path to being able to keep their natural teeth for their entire lives.
My child can’t or won’t let a dentist get near their mouth. What can Dr. Ertl do?
Dr. Ertl loves children, and he knows that it’s completely normal for children to fear strangers. In order to help your child let go of this normal fear, we recommend that you bring you child with you to your own routine dental appointments before bringing them in for their own. When your child has a chance to meet Dr. Ertl, without being treated, it may make the visits seem more normal. But more than anything, having your child watch you being treated by Dr. Ertl and his staff will allow the child to know what to expect and to become comfortable in the dental setting. You can also help by talking to your child in advance of the visit, and telling them things to expect (such as: sitting in the exam chair, needing to open their mouths when asked, and that the doctor will have tools he uses to explore their mouths). You can even frame the visits as a “fun game” or a “new discovery” because the doctor will be able to show your child pictures from inside his or her mouth—areas they would never be able to see clearly on their own! It’s also important to talk to your child about not biting down on the instruments, as this only prolongs the appointment. Dr. Ertl and our whole dental team are experienced at working with children, and they will do everything they can to put your child at ease and keep the experience as stress-free as possible. If your child has more severe issues of dental fear and anxiety, ask Dr. Ertl about anxiety-free or sedation dentistry that is designed just for children.
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