The 1st in a Series of 10 Lessons: The Truth Behind Caring for Kid’s Oral Health
Virginia Berman: mother, Founder Two Minute Turtle Timer, Invent Boston
Edited and approved by Boston community health pediatric dentists
I had so many questions as a new mother—from how to keep the baby comfortable while feeding to getting her to sleep for a couple of hours at night. Last on my mind was the baby’s teeth, since she didn’t have any! So when I found breast-feeding to sleep helped her go to sleep more easily, that was a success, I also thought we could wait to see the dentist until she’d had her teeth.
Our daughter's first solid foods were not sugary, or at least I didn’t think they were. I learned afterwards: dried fruit was indeed very sugary, and the goldfish crackers they loved weren't much better for their teeth. So when we brought our 4 year old to her first dentist appointment, we learned she had 7 cavities! We had waited too long to go to the dentist. We ended up spending precious time and money in ways we would have rather (and could have!) avoided. I hope you don’t have to go through what we did… read on.
I wrote this because tooth decay in kids is common, miserable and preventable!
Trained with 2 Minute Turtle
No more cavities!
So what happened to us?
The cavities, the dentist said, were so deep that they recommended pulling a couple of rotten teeth. Yikes! Now what? Our toddler had to go to 5 different appointments over a period of a few weeks for: fillings, local anesthesia, teeth pulling, and then adding spacers where the teeth had been pulled! It was hectic, expensive and unpleasant, not to mention a feeling of having done something very wrong! It felt particularly bad as the adult, the parent giving our preschooler so much local anesthesia, making her sit in the dentist chair more than usual, paying hundreds of dollars in dental bills, and taking off vacation days from work to make it all happen. The longer you wait to have the teeth examined, I learned the hard way, the worse the conditions may get, adding problems to have to treat.
Some pediatricians, not just dentists, do the child’s oral exam at the first year well-baby check up. This is convenient but most parents don’t know this is an option. Ask your pediatrician if they would do your child’s oral exam to take care of their dental check-up in that same visit.
Kids Can Sit Still for Brief Exams
Not all dentists, let alone pediatricians, want to give an oral exam to a 1 year old, although pediatric dentists may. That’s just one challenge getting a check-up when your baby is only 1. Other challenges-Do you have a dentist close enough to get to? Does the dentist see 1 year olds? Do you have CHIP or other dental insurance? What is the co-pay if you have dental insurance? Most insurance will cover an exam and it could save you lots of heartache and money to have that first dental visit as close to your child’s first birthday as possible.
In conclusion, by following this first of 10 lessons, you may avoid getting early childhood caries. So Good Luck- learn from our mistakes. Let your smile shine, armed with more knowledge for your kids’ oral health. If you have tips to navigate kids’ dental health world, I’d love to hear them. Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org