The ADA has declared February as Children’s Dental Health Month and, while Modern Touch Dental is not exclusively a pediatric dental office, we treat lots of teeny tots and plenty of teenagers at both our Hartland and Whitefish Bay location. While at the office, parents often ask me and the team questions about how to keep kids’ smiles squeaky clean and cavity-free. Here are a few great questions you’ve asked recently:
What can I do if my child refuses to brush or floss?
We at Modern Touch Dental feel that brushing is so important, that it comes down to “whatever it takes”. That being said, it’s never a good idea to use force. Of course you’ll get the job done in that moment, but you risk having a child that, in the long run, develops an even stronger resistance to proper cleaning habits.
We have found that many parents have had success using positive reinforcement. A routine-based reward system is most effective. Make a calendar, and for every morning and night that your child brushes properly, he/she receives a “star” on the calendar. You decide how many stars it will take, and when they reach the goal, they get a prize that you have both agreed on beforehand. It doesn’t have to be much, but it does need to be something your child really wants in order to maintain genuine motivation.
The first common response to this is, “Why should I have to gift my child for doing something they ought to be doing on their own in the first place?” Well, remember, they haven’t been doing what you want. You’re trying to create a new pattern, or habit. Don’t worry…good dental habits will soon become common place. Within a few months, you can stretch the calendar out to 2 and then 3 months, at which point, it shouldn’t be needed anymore.
For an older child, if the positive reinforcement doesn’t do much, there is always the option of negative reinforcement. (I don’t know many 13-15 yr old’s who want their phone to be taken away.) Stress the importance of a clean, healthy mouth and the social benefits of having fresh breath and a clean, sparkly smile. In our world of pictures, videos, and “say whatever’s on your mind” posting, your daughter doesn’t want damaged or yellowed teeth and they definitely don’t want that cute guy in English class Snapchatting his buddies that she has bad breath….
The most important thing is to stay consistent and persistent and don’t forget to lead by example.
Why do you do fillings in my child’s cavities if his/her “baby teeth” are eventually going to fall out anyways?
Baby teeth show up first, and the adult teeth come right behind them. If decay is left alone and allowed to progress in baby teeth, not only will it mean possible pain for your child, but the bacteria can actually penetrate past the roots of the baby tooth and begin to affect the adult tooth before it ever has a chance to erupt and come through the gums. It is not that uncommon to see a newly erupted adult molar with decay already present. What a shame!
How much will my child’s first trip to the dentist cost? Do you offer a discount for first time visits?
If your kids are younger than 5 and have never been seen at Modern Touch Dental before, request online or call to schedule a complimentary Happy Visit with us! It’s totally FREE. Kids will tour the office, meet our team, sit in the big comfy chair, and enjoy a quick cleaning if they’re up for it!