The Australian Dental Association recommends that kids have their first visit to the dentist at 12 months of age. The reasons are for early detection of dental decay and parent education. Unfortunately about one in ten children suffer from tooth decay before they are two years old. The most common cause is placing a baby in bed at night with a bottle of sweetened liquid or milk. Parents need to be alert for signs of early tooth decay and modify any habits that may foster it.
The services offered in this area of dental health include: routine preventative care including cleaning, fissure sealants and fluoride treatments: simple fillings; dietary advice; and more advanced treatment requirements tailored to the child’s needs. Nitrous oxide or ‘happy gas’ sedation is available for more anxious children.
Great care is taken to help children/adolescents feel relaxed during their visits to the practice. Research shows that early dental experiences have a direct impact on preparedness to make timely dental appointments to assist oral health later in life.
The fostering of positive interpersonal relationships between the parent/carer and the dentist, as well as between the child, dentist and auxiliary staff, are given a very high priority. Children are shown much respect as individuals. During visits explanations are given and demonstrations provided at a level appropriate for the individual, with the emphasis on positive communication pitched at the child’s level.
Children’s reassurance is fostered through praise. This may relate to how well they are sitting still in the chair, opening their mouths so that they can have their teeth counted or for being able to sit in the chair on their own. Any concerns are listened to and addressed sensitively. A very important challenge involves teaching children how to cope with dental treatment when it is required. This is done so that children can have a positive, relatively pain free experience if treatment is needed.
Dentists at the practice take pleasure in treating children and find it both fun and rewarding. They enjoy seeing a child skip down the corridor to be the first to jump in the chair for their checkup. Preventive dental care, good diet and excellent oral hygiene are the keys to children’s good oral health.