Teeth are for a lifetime if given proper care. They are not just for showing while smiling or chewing/ grinding our food; they can have a psychological and physical impact on us as well. And the same is true for our kids as well.
If teeth can’t chew properly or have cavities, the digestive system gets affected. If your child, no matter what age, is dressed in the best branded clothes and shoes, with hair clean and blow-dried, but due to poor oral hygiene, bad breath emanates from his/her mouth or teeth are blackened with cavities and irregular enough to be labelled ‘rabbit teeth’ and so on, would you still consider yourself a parent who has done all efforts for the child’s presentation?
Although parents today do a lot for their children’s appearance and well-being, and are not always oblivious to the oral health needs of kids, there is still a lot that needs to be done in terms of educating parents and children. And yet, more often than not, I see parents putting off dentist visits for some reason or the other.
Why do parents delay dental visits?
I may be generalizing but the desi mindset is usually to visit the dentist only when there is pain; and this can result in numerous problems in your child’s mouth.
Fear and anxiety is the most common factor. Of course, procrastination and being too busy to take out time for health also plays a role. Another thing is the general perception that dental treatment is so costly that one should visit these ‘money minters’ only when desi totkas are not working and the tooth pain becomes unbearable.
But I am going to tell you a few reasons for you to take your child to the dentist either routinely or urgently.
Routine visit to the dentist
Believe or not, it is a good idea to schedule a visit to the dentist on a regular basis and here’s why:
- Get children’s permanent molars sealed with fissure sealants (fissures are grooves on permanent back teeth which are breeding grounds for bacteria) to prevent cavities.
- Scaling (cleaning) of teeth at least once a year.
- Do not ignore cavities in milk (baby) teeth, thinking these will eventually fall off, as cavities can cause pain and affect a child’s well-being.
Urgent reasons to visit the dentist
Of course, in some cases the child can be in so much pain that a visit becomes necessary and here’s when:
- Child had a fall and broke or chip off a tooth or the whole tooth came out (this is called an avulsion).
- Cavities in teeth, no matter how small.
- Teeth sensitivity.
- Irregular teeth because these can affect child psychology and result in an inferiority complex.
- Yellow, stained and dirty teeth which a child is unable to clean by himself because of tarter build-up. Such teeth need professional cleaning.
- Swollen and bleeding gums.
- Bad breath.
Where to go
Another question I get asked quite often is which dental practice to go to. And here are some tips to find good dental facilities:
- Qualifications and environment
Always bear in mind to go to a qualified dentist and choose a good clean clinic where standard operating procedures of sterilization are carried out.
Dental treatment is somewhat expensive all over the world but this should not prevent you from taking your child to a well-reputed clinic and instead choosing a shady one that can potentially give you other serious illnesses related to dirty and improperly sterilized instruments.
2. Question and understand
Always ask questions and understand the treatment you are opting for your child. Braces or orthodontic treatment can take years of completion and the cost is divided monthly. In other treatments like filling of a cavity, you may be given some choices like using a white filling over another for aesthetic reasons. Before jumping to the conclusion that dentistry is a money minting profession only, please take out time to evaluate what is in the best interest of your child.
3. Manage the fear
If your child is afraid to visit the dentist as many children are, try and figure out ways to alleviate his/her anxiety. Nowadays dentists have modified their attitude, especially towards children, as fear of the dental chair is a very real issue. Some dental clinics have incorporated play areas and/or toys. TVs are installed in front of dental chairs in operatory so children can be distracted.
Of course, above all, as parents it is our duty to read up and know more about oral hygiene since a clean mouth wards away a lot of diseases. Discuss and work with your child to achieve your ultimate goal, that is, a healthy mouth. You can also ask your dentist for help so he/she enlightens you and your child with the right brushing technique. Knowing about toothpaste formulations and the right kind of toothbrush is also pertinent. Too much flouride or toothpastes with too many ingredients may not be beneficial at all.
So, parents, if you were not concentrating on this aspect of your children’s health, believe me it is high time now. Their healthy, sparkling smiles will thank you!