Schedules may get hectic with school, extracurricular activities and homework, but making it to the dentist is always worth it. Dentists play a central role in children’s oral health that goes beyond checking teeth for cavities.
The most obvious benefit dentists provide is preventive care through regular exams and cleanings. During these appointments, dentists or hygienists remove plaque and tartar to prevent the formation of cavities, which is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood. For additional cavity prevention, they can place sealants on teeth that have the highest risk for tooth decay. This preventive care and consistent monitoring help dentists prevent or curb the effects of dental threats like thumb sucking, teeth crowding, fluorosis, neglecting oral health and more.1
Dentists are a meaningful part of educating kids on proper oral health habits. While smile maintenance might be straightforward to adults, children have to learn it all from scratch. Dentists understand how their cognition develops and how to properly explain dental care principles in kid-friendly language. They can help convey the importance of brushing, flossing, eating healthy and visiting the dentist.2 And because parents have the most important role in establishing healthy smiles, dentists advise them on providing proper instruction and how to model good oral health habits.3
Children’s attitudes toward dental care begin taking shape in early childhood, and dentists can help ensure those attitudes are pleasant. Dentists provide positive reinforcement that creates enjoyable memories of appointments. When the exam is over, dentists often give kids toys or other rewards, and they build a rapport to establish trusting relationships. On the flip side, by preventing cavities and toothaches, the dentist minimizes unpleasant experiences, helping children avoid anxiety toward dental appointments.
Finding a dentist you trust early on and maintaining regular visits is an important part of a child’s dental care. It not only helps teeth stay healthy, but it also teaches children the proper way to take care of their smile for years to come.