Establishing good dental habits early in your child’s life is a great idea. Overall consistent daily dental habits and routine dentist visits can help your child begin life-long oral health, and save them from troublesome cavities and dentist bills.
However, keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy can feel like a full-time job. Between visits to the dentist and twice daily brushing and flossing, kids tend to think of dental hygiene as a real chore. As a parent, you’re constantly trying to find good ways to keep your kids interested in things that are good for them, so how do you keep them interested in keeping their mouths healthy?
Here are four fun ways to help your children engage with keeping their mouths healthy and their smiles beautiful:
Let Them Choose Their Own Toothbrush and Toothpaste
When you’re a kid, it feels as though you’re getting told what to do most of the time – what to eat, where to go, what to wear, even with what toys you should play. Any time your child gets to choose something for themselves, it’s a real treat. Allowing your child to pick out their toothbrush and toothpaste gives them some control over their oral habits and helps engage them.
Now, that doesn’t mean that they get to choose the most expensive brush or the toothpaste that’s full of sugar. If needed, you can select several choices for them to pick from – it’s not the objects, but the perception of choice that makes a difference.
Make Brushing and Flossing a Family Affair
Many parents are always looking for activities that involve the whole family. Now you can make tooth-brushing time family time too. Your children will look to you first in how to act in most things, and dental hygiene is no different.
If you make dental hygiene something that the family does together, it will seem like more of an activity instead of a chore they have to do every day. This allows you to supervise their brushing and flossing habits to ensure your child is brushing properly and it also ensures that you yourself schedule your own dental hygiene every day.
Have a Tooth-Brushing Dance Party
With small teeth come small attention spans. It can be hard for your child to stand in one place for several minutes while they brush their teeth – so boring, Mom! You can add some spice and fun to your child’s oral hygiene routine by adding music. Pick upbeat songs that are two or three minutes long – this way you can have them brush while they dance so you’ll know that they’ve spent enough time brushing and they’ll know when to stop. Choose a few songs that will become your traditional brushing songs and only use them when your child brushes – it helps keep your child’s routine going!
Devise a Gold Star System
Giving your child an incentive to maintain good oral health every day is an excellent way to keep them on track with brushing and flossing. A “Gold Star System’ where they get gold star stickers for doing their whole brushing routine correctly not only helps maintain the habits but also gives them a sense of accomplishment every time they receive a new one. You can even take the system one step further by offering rewards when they earn a certain number of stars: an afternoon at the park, 15 extra minutes on the iPad, or a trip to the movie theater.
Contact Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry for more tips
We’re committed to keeping our patients healthy and educated, and we make it a priority for them to know how to take care of their teeth properly. For more advice or for your first appointment, contact Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry by calling 919-967-2773 or request an appointment.
Making Your Child's First Dentist Visit Easy
Few things can cause as much stress and anxiety for both a small child and mother as going to visit the doctor, and a dentist visit is no different. Fortunately, your child’s first visit to the dentist doesn’t need to cause you anxiety or stress! Like many things in life, being prepared can smooth over most of the potential problems before they even begin, and this is especially true when preparing your child for their first dentist visit.
When to Take Your Child for Their First Visit to the Dentist
An often-asked question is “when should I take my child for their first dentist visit?” Good question! Your child’s first visit should occur within six months of their first tooth erupting or within 6 months of their first birthday, but even if your child is older than this now, it’s never too late to bring them in. A well-trained pediatric dentist will be able to check and identify any potential problems with your child’s soft palate and jaw development. This early identification can help you keep your child’s mouth healthy for years to come.
If you’ve noticed that your child’s teeth have started to erupt you can start your child’s dental health habits early, even before you take them for their first dental visit. Start brushing your child’s new teeth with a baby-safe toothbrush and plain water – be consistent and habitually brush their teeth every day. This will help your child lay the foundation of life-long oral health.
Take the Mystery Out of the Dentist’s Office
A big part of what causes dentist fears for small children is the unknown: where’s it going to be, what’s going to happen, is it going to hurt, and who are these people looking in my mouth? An excellent way to stop that fear in its tracks is to take away the fear of the unknown, by making it known: talk to your pediatric dentist about what will happen during the visit and explain it to your child.
Taking the mystery out of the visit also entails talking and preparing your child at home before the appointment. Show them Youtube videos about dentist visits, explain the Tooth Fairy and how she only comes for healthy teeth, and get them excited about doing healthy things for their teeth. When your child is excited to visit the dentist, there will be no stress or anxiety.
Here are great books we recommend to read to your child that can help prepare them for their first dental visit:
- Show Me Your Smile! (Dora the Explorer)
- The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist
- Just Going to the Dentist (Little Critter)
Stay Prepared on the Day
Remember to do what you can to make your child feel at home during the first visit. Bring their favorite stuffed animal or game to the appointment and plan a fun activity for after to make sure they’re confident and excited about the day.
Remember your own attitude and behavior – your child will look to you to know how to act and feel. If you remember to stay calm and excited, your child will react accordingly. Staying by your child as they have their procedure done will also help to keep them calm and soothed when they’re being examined for the first time. A smile and a held hand can go a long way to helping your child stay happy and having fun at the dentist’s office.
Schedule Your Child’s First Dentist Visit Today
To make sure that your child’s first dentist visit is fun, comfortable, and educational contact Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry today for an appointment. Call us at 919-967-2773 or request an appointment via our form.
Dr. Katie Payne, DDS
Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry is excited and proud to announce that Dr. Katie Payne, DDS will be joining our team July 17th, 2017! Dr. Katie is no stranger to the Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry staff as she started her journey in pediatric dentistry working with us for 3 years in 2008 as she finished her bachelor's and began dental school.
Dr. Katie completed both her bachelor’s degree and dental school training at UNC-Chapel Hill and completed her pediatric dentistry residency at Ohio State University. Over her many years of expertise and training, Dr. Katie has always loved working with children and is committed to compassionate treatment of not just the mouth, but the person.
Dr. Katie and Dr. Hardin have worked together for several years and continue to strive for excellence in care for their patients. In addition to sharing a passion for pediatric dentistry and ensuring that their patients are well-informed, both Dr. Hardin and Dr. Katie are passionate and deeply invested in their patients’ health and the practice.
As this transition approaches us here at Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry in Chapel Hill, we want to make sure that patients and parents are aware of a newer face in the office. We always strive to make sure that our patients have a fun, painless, educational experience when they visit and so we feel that it is important for your child to meet and get to know both doctors. This means even better care for your child’s oral health as both of our doctors will have familiarity with your child’s needs.
Additionally, this means that our practice can continue to thrive and grow – we will be able to offer more appointment availability and more hours in order to give our patients the best care available. In the fall, we’ll be hosting an open house in appreciation of our patients and to better get to know Dr. Katie.
Contact Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry with Questions
Do you have questions about the upcoming changes? We’ve got answers! Please feel free to contact us by calling 919-967-2773 or requesting an appointment.
February was National Children’s Dental Health Month and we at Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry are excited to be helping kids all over the Chapel Hill and Orange County area by visiting schools, talking about dental health, and making sure that children have the right tools to keep their mouths healthy.
In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, the American Dental Association (ADA) announced the 2017 theme for the month: “Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile.” What the ADA means by this is “drink tap water for the fluoride.”
Fluoride is a colorless, flavorless, odorless, safe additive to water that helps prevent tooth decay. It is added to the public water supply in many places all over the United States, including Chapel Hill. While consuming water with fluoride is a good and easy method of taking care of your children’s teeth, many parents struggle with getting their kids to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
In addition to brushing and flossing every day, there are other methods you can use to keep your children’s mouths healthy and keep them out of the dentist’s chair.
Cut Back on Juice
Lessening the amount of juice that your kids drink might sound like a hard thing to do considering how much kids love juice, but the effects of the sugar in juice actually speed up the process of tooth decay. You might have heard over the years that sugar is bad for your teeth, but what does that actually mean?
The sugars or carbohydrates that occur in drinks like juice tend to stick to teeth. Not long after ingesting juice, the sugars combine with bacteria in your mouth to develop acids. These acids waste no time in starting to break down tooth enamel and creating tooth decay. Cutting back the amount of juice your child drinks can help their mouths stay healthy.
Eat More Veggies
It will come as no surprise that someone who looks after the physical health of your child wants them to eat cleaner more nutrient-rich foods, even if it is your dentist. As an advocate for pediatric dental health, cutting back on sugary foods and drinks is always a good thing when it comes to your child’s teeth. That being said, there are several vegetables and other foods that can help your child keep their mouth healthy.
Leafy greens like lettuce and spinach are a great source of many vitamins, including calcium which strengthens tooth enamel. Vegetables like celery and carrots actually have a “scrubbing” effect on teeth, cleaning as you chew. They both are full of fiber and vitamin A, a vital part of gum health. Eating raw carrots at the end of a meal actually help fend off tooth decay by making your mouth salivate more.
Avoid Bottle Decay
It is quite normal to put a baby or toddler down for a nap with a bottle or sippy cup, but putting them down with a bottle filled with juice can be counter-productive when it comes to their teeth. Even giving your child a bottle with milk or formula when they go down for a nap can have long-term effects on their oral health.
What’s a parent to do in that situation? Giving your child water in their bottle or sippy cup makes a healthy substitute for milk, formula, or juice. As we said before, tap water is not only less harmful than juice, but fluoridated tap water can actually help protect your child from pediatric tooth decay.
Contact Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry for Preventative Care Today
On top of the advice here, you want to ensure that your child is brushing and flossing properly every day and visiting their pediatric dentist regularly for checkups. Make your child’s next appointment with Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry today by scheduling through our form or by calling 919-967-2773.
Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry is located
Tooth Fairy Visits 2015
Southern Village Fall Festival 2014
Touch a Truck 2014
Chapel Hill Christmas Parade 2013
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Christmas Parade 2011
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