Growing up, my parents stressed the importance of a healthy dental hygiene routine. From an early age, I remember brushing my teeth twice a day and we always had access to healthy food choices that were low in sugar. These two points (as well as genetics) have played an important role in the fact that I have no major problems with my teeth. I want the same future for The Kids.
Remember how Artemis almost went to the Dentist? Well, that was January and by the time I looked at the calendar again, it was June. While reading our local paper, The EMC, I noticed an article titled “Babies should start seeing the Dentist by Age one”. Turns out that Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Disrict Health Unit offers free first visits for all children. You can find out more about their dental program and other areas of support on their website.
Having regular dental checkups is one component to having a good Dental Hygiene Routine. Here is what our first appointment looked like.*
Preparing For The Visit
I didn’t have much time to prepare The Kids for their visit but, we found books about characters going to the doctor/dentist, talked about how Dora, Barney, and Diego love getting their teeth checked, discussed what would happen, the privileges they would get if they did what was asked of them and talked about how their in real life friends (like Molly) love to go to the dentist. And of course, we practiced opening our mouths really wide. Note that bribes may also have been promised.
We met with two Dental Hygenists, Jill and Stephanie who were both so great with The Kids. They showed them all around the office, answering their many questions and even letting them adjust the chair. Their goal was to make the first experience interesting and as positive as possible.
Neither child wanted to sit in the chair which was fine with Jill. She let them sit on her lap or stand in front of her. The one requirement was that they open their mouths really wide. Which thankfully, they decided to do. It only took a few looks to see what she needed to see.
If you have two kids going at the same time, try having the braver one go first. In this case it was Artemis and since she survived the experience, Max decided he’d give it a try to. Again, there might have been mentions about stickers and toothbrushes…
Here’s what we covered.
- Number of Teeth. Both of them have 20 baby teeth which is normal.
- Flouride Treatment. Since The Kids do not eat or drink a lot of sugar, we brush their teeth, they have no existing problems, and we wanted the first visit to be a positive experience, it was decided that a fluoride treatment was not necessary at this time. They didn’t want to get in the chair and this was required for the treatment.
- Tartar Buildup. Both Kids have a small amount of tartar build up on the inside of their front bottom teeth. It was decided that we would come back for another visit and have it removed after our Summer break. Note that they will need to be in the chair for this treatment too.
- Flossing. Did you know that 30% of your teeth surface is hidden between your teeth. While kids baby teeth are further apart and at less risk for getting things suck inbetween them, it’s still possible and starting a flossing routine as a child will make it second nature as an adult.
- Toothpaste. The Kids can now spit their toothpaste (and don’t swallow it) so they can use regular toothpaste. They should NOT use pastes with tartar control or whitening products.**
- Manual vs. Electric Toothbrush. As you know, I’m in love with my Oral-B Electric Toothbrush. Personally, I feel like I get a better clean from an electric toothbrush. I was told that if you are properly brushing your kids teeth and replacing toothbrushes/heads when necessary then it really comes down to a matter of preference***
- The Next Appointment. We didn’t actually talk about when the next regularly scheduled appointment would be because we have an appointment in the Fall for their tartar build-up. However, I’m assuming that they should be seen at least once a year. At least until they get their adult teeth.
As I mentioned, Dental Checkups are just one way to assist your kids with a healthy dental hygiene routine. Here’s a list of some other things that you can do to help.
What You Can Do
- Brush your kids teeth yourself,
- Brush twice a day,
- Feed them a diet low in processed sugars,
- Floss their teeth,
- Know your kids teeth and watch for problems,
- Make teeth care an important part of their overall health care,
- Take them for annual dental checkups,
- Lead by example and care for your teeth.
Do Your Kids Have a Good Dental Hygiene Routine?
* Note that our routine was personalized to our lifestyle and needs and may not be reflective of your routine.
**A few months ago, I decided to switch Max over to adult toothpaste (from kids toothpaste) because he could spit most of the time. Turns out, I could have done it way sooner. He disliked the taste so much that there was no risk of him swallowing it! Fortunately, now he has no problem with the taste.
*** Recently I gave The Kids electric “Snoopy” toothbrushes and they wanted to brush their teeth 10 times a day. Then, they received a regular toothbrush at the dentist and now want to use it instead.