As a just for kids’ dentist, we are in a unique position that is at once rewarding and also has significant challenges. The most challenging aspect of our job is working with patients that are often too young to understand dental procedures and yet not so young that they are not afraid of them. Fear, unfortunately, is learned early, and so we have to take steps to soothe a child as we go about fixing their dental problems. In addition to this, children are accompanied by well-meaning parents that are often full of anxiety over the thought of their child getting dental work done. These complications exist before we ever start working on a child’s teeth. Children’s teeth also have their own unique set of challenges. Mostly this springs from the fact that a child is still growing, and their jawbone is still forming. This is both a challenge and an opportunity since we can help form the jaw and teeth, but must be careful that we do not damage or hinder the growth in any way.
Being a children’s dentist also means being an excellent educator. Just specializing in dealing with little people and their teeth is not enough for the long haul. Our goal is to get your child to have excellent oral health and hygiene habits on a daily basis, thereby reducing the amount of time they have to spend in the dental chair. We would prefer to only see patients twice a year, once for a cleaning and once for an annual checkup because that means they are in good health. In order for this to happen, however, we have to educate children and their parents, with regards to great habits that keep teeth healthy. These habits once learned can carry on for a lifetime, and the adult you raised will also have healthier teeth.
The hardest habits to break, and teach, are eating habits. For example in a recent study, it was found that an alarming number of parents, up to 60% allow their children to eat a snack with high sugar content at least once per day. This number is enough to make us cringe as we recommend that a child not be allowed to eat this kind of snack more than a couple of times per week. The same study found that very few parents actually stick to this kind of a routine, only around 25% of the parents surveyed. In addition, 14% of parent surveyed stated that they allowed their children these kind of snacks two to four times per day. As a just for kids dentist, we know that these kinds of snacks can do terrible damage to the teeth and that only educating the parents can help slow down the damage.
We also know that education works since for decades parents and dentists have been working together to increase awareness of the importance of brushing. The same survey found that over 93% of parents now brush their children’s teeth as recommended, giving us encouragement that with further education more parents may limit the amount of sugar that their children eat. As a just for kids’ dentist, we know that the partnership between a dentist and parent is an important key to a child remaining in good oral health.