Kids' Dentistry in Jonesboro, AR
Children are the most precious thing in our lives. As parents ourselves, we cannot imagine a more important goal than taking care of our kids. This makes providing dental care for children the most important thing we do. By starting a child off right, we lay the foundation for lifelong dental health and preventing many avoidable problems down the line.
When do kids need to start seeing a dentist?
We get this question all the time. A good rule of thumb is: “People who have teeth need a dentist.” On average, the first teeth start to come in between six and twelve months. As soon as the first teeth come in, we recommend starting to brush regularly with non-fluoride toothpaste.
The first few dental checkups for kids are really nothing more than quickly looking for problem areas and getting them used to the environment. In these early visits, they can sit on your lap and be in and out in no time. They still get a prize from the treasure chest and a sticker for being awesome! As they get older, we slowly transition into a traditional checkup appointment with cleaning, polishing, and X-rays.
Why are baby teeth important?
Even though primary (baby) teeth aren’t permanent and will eventually come, they are incredibly important to your child’s health and development. This is a list of the primary reasons your child needs their baby teeth:
- Eating — Like permanent (adult) teeth, the most important function of baby teeth is chewing food. Poor dental health can negatively affect your child’s nutrition since a toothache can keep them from being able to eat without pain. Losing a baby tooth due to decay can keep children from being able to chew a full range of foods.
- Pain — It goes without saying that you don’t want your child to hurt. Not taking care of baby teeth can lead to significant pain. A cavity in a baby tooth will be sensitive to sweet and cold, just like a permanent tooth, and will eventually abscess if deep enough.
- Holding space — One of the least understood reasons for baby teeth is their actual purpose. Baby teeth are there to hold the place in the mouth for the permanent teeth coming in later. Permanent teeth are always moving, generally up and forward, as they come in. Some baby teeth come out early (between five and seven years old), but some will be there until the ages of twelve to thirteen. If these teeth are lost early to decay or abscess, the spacing of permanent teeth will be altered. Problems can be as mild as a little cosmetic crowding or as severe as teeth being tilted awkwardly, which will not leave enough room for some permanent teeth. This will result in the need for later orthodontic treatment and may also increase the likelihood of cavities in permanent teeth since incorrectly spaced teeth are harder to clean.
What can I do as a parent to help?
- Help them be the best brusher and flosser possible. — Here are a few tips and tools you can use to help your children do the best possible job caring for their teeth between visits:
- Use a timer. Either an old-school hourglass or smart phone app set for at least one minute will help your child spend enough time to get every area clean. This is simple and highly effective.
- Electric toothbrushes for kids have proven to be a great tool for getting kids to brush better and longer. Most kids think it’s fun to have a cool motorized toothbrush. Many models have a built-in timer that beeps when it’s done. Electric brushes also help properly clean by doing some of the work for them/
- Disclosing tablets are very effective in cases where kids don’t brush well enough or long enough. A quick chew of our little red tablets will stain all plaque either pink or red and show what places were missed and still need some attention.
- Be a good role model for dental care. — Kids learn more from your actions than your words. By taking proper care of your mouth, you are reinforcing the importance of great oral hygiene to them. Too many times we have heard people say, “I have to put my kids first and take care of them before me.” We completely understand the thought, but things like being active in their dental health by brushing and flossing with them helps them get into the habit. Just getting your checkups alongside them can give so much positive reinforcement to the importance of taking care of their teeth.
- Keep watch on their eating habits. — Kids are the hands-down leader in eating and drinking things that are bad for teeth. When you add in that kids are the least likely to do a great job with home care, this creates a clear risk for problems. Sweets and sodas can turn baby teeth to mush in absolutely no time. We know that it’s unreasonable to expect children to only drink water and eat healthy all the time, but try your best to keep sugary snacks and drinks to a minimum.
We are extremely excited you have chosen us to help care for your child, and we don’t take the responsibility lightly. Above all else, we will provide your children with the quality comfortable care they deserve. If you ever have any questions or dental concerns about your child, please feel free to contact our Jonesboro AR dentist office and we will be happy to answer them.