February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

As you know, I am big on featuring health awareness campaigns. This month, along with heart health, the whole country is creating awareness for children’s oral health. The slogan for this year’s campaign is Get a Gold Medal Smile. I asked pediatric dentist, Dr. Eric Ellis, a few tips about helping parents provide excellent care for their children’s teeth. Dr. Ellis is a member of Smile Generation and has a practice in Arizona, Every Kid’s Dentist. 

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JAH:  What are some tips for minimizing anxiety for a regular check-up for kids who have already had a first, second, or third visit?

Dr. E:  It is normal for children to have anxiety if they have had a poor experience in the past. As pediatric dentists we only get the opportunity to see our patients every six months, but six months can be a big leap in cognitive and emotional development. If your child had a poor experience in the past, it is my suggestion that we attempt to treat every dental appointment like a completely new experience. Our websites www.everykidsdentist.com & www.mykidsdentist.com have excellent patient resources designed for your child to prepare them for our dental world. We even have one of our pediatric specialists introducing our office environment.

JAH:  Are there any books, videos, or apps that parents can use as an educational tool to help young children brush their teeth properly?

DR. E:  Again our websites, www.everykidsdentist.com & www.mykidsdentist.com were designed with our patients and their parents in mind. There are cartoons explaining the best ways to brush and floss. Very informative stuff. My own children love it!

JAH: What tips/tricks have you heard parents use to get young children to brush their teeth?

DR. E: Being a father of four year old twins some days were easier than others.  Creating a routine worked well with us. When they were little we were more successful in the evenings, and we would do everything in the same order before going to bed. Potty, wash hands and face, followed by singing a song while brushing and flossing our teeth. Of course some days we did better than others, but the kids eventually understood the routine and became active participants, even in the singing. For older kids, allowing the kids to pick a special toothbrush or toothpaste from your local retail store may create enough interest to become more successful.

JAH: What alternatives to conventional toothpaste (i.e. Crest, Colgate) would you recommend to parents who prefer products with natural ingredients?

DR. E: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using toothpaste with fluoride, but non conventional toothpaste is acceptable. Your child should use toothpaste with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance on the package.  Brushing twice a day (after breakfast and before bed-time). Parents should dispense toothpaste to prevent their young children from swallowing too much as well.

JAH: What about mouthwash?

DR. E: Mouthwash can be effective as well. Mouthwash should be only utilized if the product is designed for children and the child can effectably spit out the rinse. Please only use only as directed by your pediatric dentist and in the guardian’s presence.

National Children's Dental Health Month smile generation
Image courtesy of Smile Generation.

 Dr. Ellis answers some frequently asked questions below.

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