Preschoolers and the Dentist

I recently read a brochure which suggested that children should start visiting the dentist on their first birthdays.

Hmmm… I’m lucky that I got my daughter in by her third birthday. What is even more impressive is the fact that I got her to return for subsequent visits, considering how poorly the first one went.

Twelve months old seems a bit early to visit the dentist, in my opinion, but experts insist that it is important to have your child’s first dental visit by the age of one, especially if you are a first time parent.

The first visit is considered an “assessment,” with the dentist examining your baby’s teeth and gums. During the visit the doctor checks to see if everything is developing normally and inquires about tooth brushing, oral habits, nursing and bottle use. Dentists say they want to prevent dental problems before they arise. However, there are times when real work needs to be done on young children. One dentist claims that he needed to extract four upper front teeth on a child under the age of two due to dental decay.

To prevent dental disease in young children it’s important to brush their teeth everyday. In addition, parents of preschoolers should encourage their children to eat healthy snacks, such as apples, celery sticks, and baby carrots. These types of foods help promote healthy teeth and gums. Also, don’t allow your children to drink carbonated beverages or sweet juices prior to bedtime. If a child falls asleep after drinking a lot of sugary beverages without brushing his teeth, he runs the risk of developing tooth decay.

In regards to making a visit the dentist a less traumatic experience for your preschooler, consider taking a trip to the library and borrowing books about tooth care. There are several books available that address a child’s first trip to the dentist, including ones that feature popular children’s characters, such as Elmo, Curious George and Disney pals. Another tip: Rent kids DVDs about trips to the dentist. Sesame Street and Disney have several noteworthy videos that do a good job addressing children’s fears about the dentist.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.