Olivia had her first dentist appointment this week, and I’m happy to report that we survived! Granted, she had a teensy little meltdown when the dentist tried to look at her teeth, but we powered through. If I could sum up the visit in a word, it would be. . . informative. I know, right? Probably not what you were expecting. I know the words running through my mind were more like stressful, traumatizing, awful. . .something along those lines. But I was shocked by just how much I learned. Some interesting tidbits that might help other new parents:
- The first visit is usually just an exam, no cleaning. You will appreciate this—trust me. And I say usually because it does depend on the age of the child and the condition of the teeth.
- Beware of thumb sucking. Olivia has sucked her thumb since she was born, but our pediatrician said it wasn’t a cause for concern until she was around 3 or 4 years old. Not so, according to our dentist. Olivia has a vigorous suck reflex, which means her top teeth are already showing signs of malocclusion, meaning her teeth are starting to push outward. How hard a child sucks her thumb is much more impactful on her dental development than how long she sucks her thumb. Our dentist suggested helping her break the habit immediately. Yay.
- There are several suggested ways of helping your child break the thumb sucking habit, including Mavala, the bitter liquid you can paint on to stop nail biting and thumb sucking; a ThumbGuard™, which is a plastic apparatus that fits over the thumb so that the child cannot form a suction; and taping the thumb to the hand at night using medical tape. I am sure you can imagine how excited we are to start this fun process.
- Taking iron supplements, such as ferrous sulfate drops for anemia, can cause teeth to look gray or even black. I expressed some concern over the fact that I thought Olivia’s top two teeth looked a little gray. The dentist immediately asked if she had taken or was currently taking iron and confirmed after the exam that that was the cause. This was news to me since I had asked our pediatrician about this very thing a couple of months ago, and she had no idea what could be the cause. Seems like something they should give parents a heads up about. . .
- Pay attention to the ingredients in your child’s toothpaste. Some training toothpastes are full of artificial sweeteners, colors, and preservatives. Given that most kids under age two swallow the toothpaste, you might want to think twice about what they’re ingesting. We use Aquafresh’s Training Toothpaste, which uses natural fruit flavors and no artificial colors or preservatives. Earth’s Best by Jason also makes a great toddler toothpaste that our dentist recommended.
- Help prepare your child for the dentist by reading to them or even letting them accompany you to a cleaning to see what it’s all about. I blogged about some great children’s books about going to the dentist in this post.
- Brush your child’s teeth every single day, even if it means you have to pin them down screaming to do it. Okay, so you might not have to go to those extremes, but it’s a necessary evil and one they’re more likely to get used to if you do it every day as part of your normal routine. What’s working for us at the moment is singing the Sesame Street song while we brush.
Overall, the dentist appointment wasn’t as bad as I expected. But I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune in six months when we go back for Olivia’s first cleaning. Dun Dun DUN!