Taking the Fear Out of Dental Exams: How Pediatric Dentists Are Improving Dental Exams for Children

As the field of pediatric dentistry improves, pediatric dentists are focusing on reducing the fear and anxiety that often accompany a child’s dental visit, as well as increasing preventative measures.

Pedodontics, now known as pediatric dentistry, became a specialty in 1942, as the importance of differentiating between the treatment of adults and children became more widely recognized. Nowadays, dentists are focusing even more on creating a different experience for children at the dentist office.

Often decorated with brightly colored walls and a waiting room full of games and toys, pediatric dental offices create a warm and friendly environment for children to have their teeth worked on. Many dentists who offer pediatric care also give their younger patients a sticker or toy at the end of their visit as a reward for sitting through a procedure. By taking the focus away from potentially scary dental tools and procedures, dentists can better focus on providing proper dental care to children while instilling in them the importance of keeping up good dental habits.

It is especially important to make sure that a child’s first dental visit is a positive experience. New environments and new people can be overwhelming, and even frightening, for small children. If they have a bad experience with something, they are unlikely to want to go through it again. A bad first dental exam could pave the way for poor dental habits and even Odontophobia, or a fear of the dentist.

Aside from improving the pediatric dental experience, pediatric dentists are also focused on better preventive care.

The benefits of using fluoride to strengthen and protect teeth have long been known, but the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that fluoride products be used in children at the first sign of new teeth. Tooth decay is the most common chronic problem among children, and fluoride can help prevent decay from happening. By introducing fluoride when teeth first appear, with low doses of fluoride toothpaste, for example, parents can ensure their child’s teeth are strong from the very beginning.

While fluoride is an important preventative measure, it can also be hazardous if overused or used improperly. Dentists recommend avoiding over the counter rinses in children under six due the risk of swallowing.

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