Every parent wants their children to grow up with strong, healthy teeth. It’s fair to say most don’t want their kids to develop cavities, an irrational fear of the dentist, or a condition that requires expensive orthodontic work.
Building sound dental hygiene habits is a step in the right direction. But brushing and flossing alone often aren’t enough to address tooth decay or hereditary conditions like overcrowding.
For healthy teeth for life, children need regular dental check-ups from a young age. Early dental visits—preferably with the same dentist that treats the rest of the family—can play a significant role in identifying and fixing dental issues before they become problems.
Here are three reasons why a family approach to dental care can improve oral health outcomes for children.
1. Your dentist understands your family’s dental history
I love seeing families and treating families. There’s nothing more satisfying than getting to know parents, and watching their kids grow into adults with healthy, straight teeth and confident smiles.
But family dental care isn’t about making your dentist feel warm and fuzzy. When mum, dad and the kids see the same dentist, he or she learns about the oral health of the entire family.
This is important because certain conditions, like orthodontic problems and missing teeth, can be inherited. If a dentist knows that one or both parents had braces, for example, it’s easier to predict and address similar conditions in their children.
The earlier these issues are identified, the better chance your dentist has of fixing them with minimal impact and expense.
2. You have the information to form good habits early
Most parents want the best for their kids and their teeth. At the same time, they didn’t spend years at dental school learning how to prevent tooth decay. They’re often busy, and might not be aware of the latest dental hygiene best practices.
With family dental care, we educate parents so they can educate their children, and perhaps prevent some dental problems from developing.
Tooth decay, for example, happens for many reasons, but it’s often to do with the environment the teeth are sitting in.
Drinking too much fruit juice or soft drink, or eating junk food, make that environment unhealthy. Since kids learn from their parents and family members, these habits often form at a young age.
If we teach our adult patients about what’s healthy and what isn’t, their families are going to improve their dental habits as a result.
3. Family dental care makes the dentist less frightening
Raise your hand if you love visiting the dentist. Is your hand up? Didn’t think so.
While most people don’t enjoy their annual dental check-up, regular appointments are essential for lifelong dental health. As a dentist, the last thing I want is for a person to delay getting necessary treatments because they developed a fear of the dentist as a child.
For kids, and some adults, dental surgeries can be frightening places. There is strange equipment, machines that make strange noises, and procedures that are sometimes painful.
That’s why we encourage parents to bring their children to appointments. It makes the dentist surgery seem less threatening. When a kid sees mum or dad in the chair, they become accustomed to what goes on. It’s not a scary place.
Some family-friendly dental practices will also make the surgery as inviting as possible for kids. My big thing with kids, for example, is making balloon animals. They love it.
Good dental habits start young. For the best oral-health outcomes for your children, develop a positive, professional relationship with your family dentist.