CGCD: A Child-Friendly Practice
July 10, 2018
Dr. Katherine Nicholson
Choosing a new dentist is one of the most important health care decisions families make. A dentist that makes proper diagnoses and works with you to develop a sensible care plan is, of course, a must. Most people also prefer a dental practice that helps alleviate the stress and confusion of dealing with insurance providers, like we do here at Carolina General & Cosmetic Dentistry. An office environment that is friendly and comfortable is important, as well.
And for many, a dental practice that works for every member of the family is the deciding factor. Mom and dad might be perfectly fine with a certain dentist’s demeanor and methods, but if their child(ren) have a difficult time or encounter a dentist who does not know how to or particularly like dealing with younger patients and their unique needs, they will likely find a new dental care home.
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Treating children affords me a great opportunity to positively impact a person’s health for the rest of their life. Instilling in a young person the importance of their oral health, and giving them the tools they need to take good care of themselves, is so important to me and my team at Carolina General & Cosmetic Dentistry.
In order to do that, I believe you have to first try to remove any fear or confusion about what “a trip to the dentist” is all about. That’s why I encourage parents to bring their little ones with them to their own cleanings. By bringing them with you and allowing them to see mom or dad get their teeth cleaned, much of the mystery and anxiety is removed. They get used to the sights and sounds of a dental office. I think it’s very important for children not just to hear that going to the dentist is nothing to be scared of, but to actually see it.
When it is time for your child to take their turn in the chair, we do a number of things to make sure their experience is a good one. First off, with children, we tend to speak to them in a more playful tone of voice. We want them to see our practice as someplace fun, and not a place to be feared. For instance, we may tell them that the prophy, which polishes their teeth, is going to "tickle" their teeth. We ask them if they can hear their teeth laughing. Some kids start to giggle. We also will play Disney music or music from other children’s stations on Pandora. And if I know the songs, I'll even sing along!
In terms of the actual procedures we perform, our movements are deliberately slower when we work with children than when we work on adults. I have found moving in a slow, deliberate way helps keep children calm and feeling safe. We like to take things slow with children. We don't rush or push them. We want to build trust with them.
No matter who you ultimately choose for your dental home, here are some helpful tips and other things to keep in mind regarding your children’s dental and oral care:
Oral care should start early. Start massaging your infant’s gums with a clean cloth after meals. This will not only remove debris from their mouth, but it will help with the future transition to a toothbrush after they get their first tooth. They will already be comfortable with something in their mouth to clean their teeth and stimulate their gums.
If they have a tooth, they need a dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children start going to the dentist by age 1, or within 6 months after their first tooth comes in. We usually see children by their 2nd birthday, if not before.
Make brushing a family activity. When your children are young, brush your teeth with them. Again, children naturally imitate their parents. If they see you doing it, they will want to do it, too. Make sure they are using a pea size amount of toothpaste.
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