On July 3rd, 1806, two years into their journey to chart the uncharted west of America, pioneer explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark reached a challenge of epic proportion – the Rocky Mountains. What next, they wondered? Without a map, they were forced to do what explorers do – explore, and hope for the best. So, that got us thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a handy map you could use to chart your own dental health? With that in mind, and in honor of our “Dog Days of Summer” explorers, we at Westend Dental wanted to share with you a few mile markers you can use to stay on top of your child’s health today, next year, and for years to come!
6 to 24 months
When you’re a new parent, life is a whirlwind, and the dental care of your newborn may not be top of mind when you look in their mouths and see no teeth! Here are some things to keep in mind:
Schedule a visit: As soon as that first tooth comes in, you’ll want to give us a call at 773-244-9500 to schedule a visit and set up a periodic exam schedule. Also, be aware the ADA recommends fluoridated toothpaste now for all children under the age of three. Don’t wait!
Ask us about:
- Home hygiene basics: Things like, tips and tricks on brushing and other care. There’s nothing better than having our hygienists give brushing tutorials – they’re experts!
- Preventative dentistry: The possible need for fluoride supplements
- Dietary strategies: Achieving a balanced diet early in life for good oral health later
- Feeding practice awareness: Bottle, breastfeeding, and no-spill training cups
- Non-nutritive oral habits: Thumb sucking, pacifiers
2 to 12 years old
Ah, the little ones are growing up. Teeth are coming in at all sorts of crazy angles, and you’re going crazy from the rise in obligations. Here’s a quick list of what to consider during this time frame:
- Preventative dentistry: Pit and fissure sealants can do wonders for keeping your child’s dental bills down, and their teeth in their head until they’re ready to fall out naturally. Ask us about them. They’re affordable AND useful. And, super-fast, you’ll be in and out in no time.
- Orthodontic Consultation: Visiting an orthodontist for an early consultation is best done around your child’s seventh birthday. With today’s technology, early intervention can reduce the cost and duration of braces when your child gets older.
The Teen Years
The years “everything” happens! As children start to come into their own, new habits and desires begin to unfold as well. You’ll have to address every imaginable concern during these years, from piercings, to calls for whitening, braces, and the need to refer yourself away from your pediatric dentist and to a general dentist for continuing oral care. So, speak with us about:
- Cosmetic Dentistry: What solutions are advisable now, and what things should be avoided.
- Teen social pressures: Smoking, alcohol, intraoral/perioral piercings and the like. Believe it or not, we can help a lot with this. Does your teen have a favorite [insert your practice name here] hygienist? We might be able to arrange for that person to help when your teen comes in so they can address these concerns with an intermediary they trust. Give us a call at [insert your practice phone number here] to see how we can help!
- Orthodontics: Options for minimizing appearance and health problems later in life.
- Home hygiene tips: Brushing, flossing, choosing the right mouthwash.
- Craniofacial injury prevention: With your children’s possible participation in sports, you’ll want to get them a mouth guard. Hands down it’ll be one of your best investments in a healthy mouth. And we make great ones at Westend Dental!
Staying on top of your child’s oral health isn’t as hard as you think, and if you keep this schedule handy, you’ll be ahead of most of your neighbor’s kids when it comes to a healthy mouth and body. Come to think of it … why not share it with them as well? They’ll thank you for the help.
Off to College
Between campus activities, Greek life, classes, essays, and exams, dental health is usually not a top priority for your child. For those away at school, it’s important to take ownership of one’s dental health by being aware of these common pitfalls:
- Dental Hygiene – As a college student, pulling all-nighters to study or staying up late simply because you can is the norm. No matter the reason it’s still important for students to brush two times per day for a recommended two minute time period.
- Energy Drinks – Students routinely need a ‘kick-start’ to their 8 a.m. class especially after a late night of studying. Although energy drinks may offer a caffeine jolt they also contain citric acid, which strips enamel off the teeth. Avoiding these drinks is best for preserving dental health but coffee is a better choice (less than 4 cups a day) if a pick-me-up is needed.
- Stress – Obtaining a 4.0 GPA isn’t easy, yet many college students will do whatever it takes to achieve it. The stress to make the grade, in addition to sleep deprivation from studying, can show on one’s teeth as a result of grinding and clenching. Making sleep (7 to 8 hours a night) and exercise (at least 30 minutes a day) a priority will help students deal with stress in a productive way. If a student has jaw pain (as a result of grinding and/or clenching) they should see a dental professional immediately.
College is an exciting time to map out one’s future career and take advantage of the many opportunities available. Although these opportunities don’t leave much room for down time, students should start practicing a balance in their academic, social and personal life to ensure dental, and overall, wellness for years to come.