Understand the Stages of Childhood Dental Care

If you’ve been a parent for any amount of time, you realize just how quickly these little ones change and grow with each passing day. You’ll see it in the way they interact with you and the world around them.

Of course, we are always looking at things from a dental perspective. When we consider how kids grow, we see it in how they grow with their teeth! We pay close attention to the stages kids go through so that we can teach you, the parent, to take quality care of your child’s smile through all of the stages.

We want to introduce you to some of these stages today. Not every child is the same, so some of these age groups won’t apply to your child, but the process is still the same. It is a process of gaining independence to become an adult who is dedicated to great oral health care!

Parent-Driven Care
A child’s dental health begins before they have any teeth at all! This is the stage of parent-driven care, which means that if you aren’t taking care of your baby’s gums and teeth, no one is!

From the time your child is 3-4 months old, you should be gently cleaning those tender gums and emerging teeth. You can begin with a soft cloth during bath time and progress to a small finger brush with training toothpaste over the first year.

Make this time a fun experience for your child! This the foundation of oral health care, and it will drive your child’s desire to continue that care of her own in the next stages.

Gaining Independence
One day, you will look at your child and realize that babyhood and toddling are all but gone. You now have a confident walker who wants to do ALL things on her own. You’ll hear, “I do it myself!” more times that you ever thought possible!

It’s at this point that you’ll need to pass the toothbrush over to a small, chubby hand, at least for part of the time. Your child is ready to learn to brush her own teeth, and that takes a lot of patience. You want her to learn, but you always want to make sure it’s done right! Taking turns is a great way to accomplish both tasks.

During this stage, it is imperative that you keep things light and fun for your child. You want this to be a fun, happy time that she wants to continue and looks forward to!

Maintaining Independent Care
Before you know it, your little one will be in school. Most of her daily routine will be done without your supervision. All the time you spent building the skills of daily oral hygiene is now going to be put to the test as your child learns to maintain independent care on her own.

Of course, you’ll still be around, and you can still check things out, but the bulk of the responsibility is now on her shoulders. This is a great time for her to learn about how the foods and drinks she chooses will affect her dental health.

During the school years, we encourage you to teach your child to ask us questions and learn to speak for herself in the office. This teaches a different kind of independence: advocacy. She needs to learn this while you are still there to guide and encourage because the next step is true independence.

Making Independent Dental Decisions
At this point, your child is out of your home and making her own decisions about which dentist she wants to see, what she wants for her smile, and how she will pay for it! All of the previous years and stages will now work to her advantage, or disadvantage, depending on what she experienced in those years.

Building your child’s confidence and knowledge in oral health during the early stages of life will prepare her to be an educated advocate for her own smile at these later stages in life. When she begins making these decisions for herself, you’ll see a boost in her smile that comes from being confident in her own decision-making abilities!

An Adult with Great Oral Health
Our ultimate goal is to help you help your child grow into an adult who has great oral health. This will allow your child to keep that naturally beautiful smile for her entire life and never have to worry about replacement teeth or restorations!

This is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child! Don’t underestimate the power of creating a solid foundation of oral health at an early age. It WILL have an impact later in life!

Want to know more? Contact us today to set up an appointment or consultation. We would love to meet with you and your child very soon!