Author: Kimberley Falk
Photos Suzy Lamont
Start your child’s healthy dental routines from the root.
“It’s important to start good dental habits even before the first teeth erupt,” says Dr. Patrick McDonough at Cataraqui Dental Centre. “Wiping your child’s gums with a wet cloth after feeding can help develop a routine while also preventing bacterial or fungal infections.”
When the first tooth erupts, you should begin brushing the teeth with a soft-bristled infant toothbrush to remove plaque.
“A smear of toothpaste is recommended” says Dr. McDonough, emphasizing that “it’s important to brush after their last feeding [of the day], and to avoid milk or juice in the bottle, especially at night. Water is okay if needed.”
Maintaining baby teeth can have many positive effects on your child.
“They help with speech, chewing and provide a path for permanent teeth to erupt,” he says.
You should keep an eye on your child’s teeth as you help them brush to make sure they are coming in healthy. If your child is in pain, children’s acetaminophen can help as long as your child is okay to take the medication, says Dr. McDonough.
“Pain, swelling, redness or discoloured teeth are all signs of potential infection and should be assessed immediately by a dentist.”
If your children are playing sports, have them wear a well-fitted protective mouth guard. Parents and dentists know that it’s impossible to keep children from the trips and falls that come with a normal day of play.
“If there is trauma to a tooth, keep any fragment or the tooth itself in a liquid such as milk and take it to the dentist as soon as possible,” says Dr. McDonough. “A dentist will assess the damage to the tooth. Oftentimes an X-ray will help detect any damage to the root or to any adult teeth below the baby tooth. The sooner the child is seen, the better the prognosis for the tooth going forward.”
It is recommended to schedule your child’s first dentist appointment when their first tooth erupts on or by their first birthday.
At the Cataraqui Dental Centre, children have their initial visit with a certified dental professional in the “kid-friendly” room filled with bean bag chairs, toys, books and, of course, everyone’s favourite fish, Norman.
“It is important to get your child used to the dental chair, mirror and what it means to come to the dentist for a check-up,” says Dr. McDonough. “We also provide information for parents and answer their questions regarding their child’s oral hygiene.”
Follow-up appointments or regular check-up visits will follow.
“Regular routine visits can help detect cavities or tooth abnormalities before they cause significant pain or discomfort to the child,” he says. Easing any fears your children have of visiting the dentist should be an important lead-up to their first and continuing dental visits.
Although sedation is sometimes used to help calm a child with extreme anxiety or nerves, Dr. McDonough stresses it’s important to remember that parents have a big influence on how their child perceives going to the dentist, so do your best to make it a positive experience.
Cataraqui Dental Centre
476 Cataraqui Woods Drive