February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and dentists are trying to spread the importance of oral health in kids as much as possible.
Dental professionals are seeing one and two-year olds who have dental decay and about 50% of kindergarteners have had a cavity.
If you’re a parent, you know that the dentist ranks pretty high on the list of things that can scare a child. But, Lily, who is 6 years old, is not afraid of the dentist.
“We know a lot of adults have anxiety when they come to the dentist. Our goal - we wanted to make this place approachable for kids,” said Dr Erica Pitera, of Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry.
“Everyone who works here is used to kids - so they’re a little extra peppy,” said Pitera.
Colorful fun signs, video games in the waiting room are part of the plan. In an effort to make children feel as comfortable as possible, they do a lot more than just paint the walls with bright colors. Everything is taken care of, including what flavor fluoride, what flavor toothpaste, even what flavor floss. They want the kids to be as fully involved as possible in the process when they come to the dentist.
“It gives them a little bit of control over the appointment, what kind of flavors - it’s up to them,” said Pitera.
It doesn’t end with the fun flavors – it’s a philosophy that gets the kids involved.
“Tell. Show. Do. How the toothbrush spins, and then when it’s in her mouth it’s less scary - because some of the tools we have are scary looking - if they know about it, if they feel it before it’s in their mouth, they’re less scared of it.”
The approach helps drill into kids a better philosophy towards the dentist.
“If they have a trust in us at an early age, if they do have a cavity it’s not going to be traumatic - it’s just another visit.”