Tariq Drabu helps you handle your Child’s First Trip to the Dentist
The month of September is a fairly important one in the dental diary, as Oral Health Month is upon us. In conjunction with Colgate and the British Dental Association, dentists up and down the country aim to raise awareness of just how important your teeth are and just how important those trips to the dentist can be. In my opinion, where better to start than with educating our children?
It would be fair to say that even adults don’t particularly like going to the Dentist . Yes, it’s something that’s necessary, something that needs to be done to ensure that our teeth stay in pristine condition, but it’s hardly something we’ll mark on the calendar and spend weeks building up to.
Any parent will tell you that it can be worse for kids. We, as adults, although we certainly don’t enjoy it, know the necessity of a trip to the Dentist. Kids don’t. That fear of the unknown coupled together with the idea that it could be an uncomfortable experience, can make kids flee in fear at even the word Dentist, and as such, a routine trip down to your local practitioner can provoke anything from sulking sessions to outright tantrums from your child.
Take it from a professional like myself, one of the most important things that you can do for your child is take them to the Dentist as early as possible. I would recommend as soon as the first baby tooth begins to show, so that any difficulties they may suffer can be picked up on as soon as possible. So how, as a parent, can you navigate these difficult waters?
Firstly, make sure your children understand the importance of their oral health. This is a lesson that you are going to have to hammer home time and again. Any dentist will tell you that as soon as those little teeth begin erupting, you should begin brushing them twice daily with no more than a smear of toothpaste. But did you know you don’t have to brush strictly in the morning and evening? It can be at any point during the day, we simply establish the morning and evening periods to encourage building a routine. It may seem a little thing to let go of, but the habits and routines we establish as children are the ones we adhere to in adulthood. If your child doesn’t get into the habit now, they never will. That will make the Dentist a much harder experience for them.
Second on the list, it’s no great secret that practically every child on the planet has a sweet tooth, who doesn’t? That being said, as is common knowledge, sweet items are the bane of any dentist’s life. With young children, it is highly recommended that sugary foods and drinks should be reduced and only provided as close to meal times as possible. Forgetting sweets for a second, but did you know dried fruits are also bad for teeth? That’s right, as we try to provide a balanced, healthy diet, you could quite easily be doing more damage than you’d think! Raisins are a prime culprit here. What I would recommend is, if you are to give your child fruit to eat, offset the sugars and acids with a small piece of cheese! Just a small piece can neutralise a lot of the sugar, but I must emphasise that this is not a substitute to brushing.
Finally, this is going to sound like a parenting tip, but believe me, as a dentist and a parent myself, it’s an important step; reinforce the message! It’s one thing for your child to actually hear it from you; it’s another thing to actually see it in front of them. It’s a good idea to watch positive TV programmes/read positive books about the dentist with your child so that this underlies your message and your child, through a compelling narrative, can cast the Dentist as the hero and plaque as the bad guy in the story of their own fairy-tale. Kids love a good morality tale.
Tariq Drabu Dentist is a leading dental practitioner based at the Langley Dental Practice in Middleton, Manchester. To learn more oral hygiene tips, thoughts or opinions, follow him on his website www.tariqdrabu.co.uk or over on twitter @TariqJDrabu