For most adults the dentist can be a scary experience, so we understand your reservations about bringing your baby to the dentist. But, good oral hygiene starts young, and so do dentist visits.
Your child should definitely make their first dentist visit before their first birthday. The general rule that most dentists follow is that the child should start seeing a dentist regularly six months after the eruption of the first tooth.
Bringing your infant to the dentist probably sounds like a lot to tackle, for you and for them. But, if you follow these simple guidelines then you’ll have no problem transitioning your child into a good oral health routine.
Before the first visit make sure to discuss with your dentist what the appointment will be like. You’ll want to know what your child is going through so that you can explain to them beforehand what will happen. Usually, a first dental appointment is just an opportunity for the dentist to get to know the patient and do a check up.
We all know that our kiddos can have those days; the ones filled with tantrums, screaming, and general grumpiness. Plan ahead for that and be willing to reschedule if that’s the case. Or, if your child is compliant, then plan ahead and be ready to go through the process with them. Try to schedule an appointment in the morning when your child is most alert.
For kids under 36 months, you will sit in the chair and they will sit in your lap. It might not be ideal for you to have a wriggling infant on your lap who may start crying at any minute, but it will make it easier for them. If your child feels comfortable doing the exam, then expect it to last between 15 to 30 minutes. The dentist will do a thorough examination of the teeth, gums, jaw, and bite as well as do a gentle cleaning, conduct x-rays, and show them how to clean properly at home.
The first trip to the dentist can be pain free if you practice good oral health at home and follow these steps.
Alright all you tech savvy smart phone owners: time to put your phone to good use in helping with your oral health! We all use our phones all day everyday, but did you know that among the millions of apps out there, there are actually quite a few that aim to help improve our dental hygiene? Here are five to get you started.
First we have the Dental Expert app. This app explains dental procedures and treatment options, if ever you are curious or forget exactly what your dentist said about a certain procedure. It puts all the concepts in layman’s terms for easy readability, and is laid out in an accessible, user-friendly menu along with fun dental facts and myths as well!
Next up, a Pediatric Dental Expert app that allows first time parents to gain knowledge of anything from correct teething schedules to understanding overbites and how to fix them. Whatever the concern is for the little one, most of the information will be on here, right at your fingertips!
Speaking of children, we know that visiting the dentist for the first time can be frightening at a young age, but with the Tiny Dentist app, it doesn’t have to be! This specific app allows kids to “be the dentist” and put themselves in their shoes. They can play around fixing teeth and hopefully become less fearful of actually attending appointments. It even allows them to play-sit in the dental chair to feel more comfortable!
Hmm, did we remember to floss today? Flossing is one of the singlehanded most important things we can do for our oral health, but remembering to is sometimes difficult! With the app Flossy, keeping track of flossing and nurturing the habit becomes way easier. The app sets reminders and allows you to schedule specific times for flossing.
Lastly, we have Brush DJ. Two minutes is the suggested time for brushing but sometimes we fall short of that. With Brush DJ you can use any song and it cuts it to exactly two minutes, so when the songs ends, the brushing is complete! How clever!
Are second opinions okay?
When your dentist informs you of a laundry list of serious procedures that he or she believes is completely necessary, it’s all right to wonder if they really are. So should you get a second opinion? Do people do that with dentistry? The short answer is: if it makes you more comfortable, yes.
You wouldn’t get brain surgery after only one doctor recommended it, would you? The reasoning behind second opinions is not meant to undermine the authority of your dentist; it’s only meant to ensure that all your options are laid out on the table for you to make the best decision for your health. Richard Price, DMD, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association reminds patients: “You’re never wrong in seeking a second opinion.”
Of course, there is a certain level of trust you should have with your dentist—you shouldn’t feel the need to get second opinions on cavities, or changing fillings. Gum surgery or oral cancer diagnoses, on the other hand, definitely merit a second opinion if you are feeling unsure. Other cases when you should feel comfortable asking for a second opinion include if your current treatment is not fixing your oral health issues, if you are worried about cost, or if you feel at all uncomfortable with your current dentist.
Even if you do have an excellent rapport with your dentist, you may want to consider a second opinion for major oral health concerns. For example, seeing a specialist. Specialists have extensive education about their particular field, as well as more experience in dealing with problems within that field than a general dentist.
So how do you start the process of getting a second opinion? First things first, if you have a good relationship with your dentist, ask them! Often times your dentist will know specialists or other dentists in your area who you can turn to for a second look. You can try contacting a dental society or dental school for a referral—the ADA, for example, has a site where you can find ADA members in your area. Check with your insurance before going in to make sure the referral is covered!
When you go for your second opinion, have a list of questions ready to ask. These could range from preliminary “do you agree with this diagnosis?” to assessing what the new dentist feels are the risks, costs, and benefits of the treatment options. You can find a list of more questions to ask here.
And what if your dentists don’t agree? Price says there’s only one thing to do— “if the second opinion is different from the first opinion, get a third opinion.” Remember, this is your oral health, and you want to make the best decision for your unique situation. Don’t rush into procedures unless you are totally comfortable with the answers and options given to you.