Pediatric Dentistry and the Importance of Modeling Behavior

Pediatric DentistryIn our pediatric dentistry office, we treat young patients as soon as they have most of their teeth in. This allows us to establish a relationship with children early on so that visiting the dentist becomes a part of their routine and not something to be fearful or apprehensive of. Since routines are established early, this is one way that you can set your child up for good oral health as they age and become adults.

It is essential to establish good, healthy habits as early as possible so that children do not think that there is any other way to live. Taking care of their teeth and gums will be second nature and something they will do without having to think about it or plan ahead. This is what we want since it will decrease the risk of them getting cavities or gum disease both now and as they age. One way to help your child to develop these healthy habits is to model good behavior in the first place. Children learn through imitation. In fact, that is where they get the idea to walk, eat certain foods, speak, tell jokes, etc. These life skills seem like second nature, but they have to start somewhere, and typically it comes from watching parents, siblings and other people that are regularly part of a child's life.

We recommend that you model the importance of having teeth cleaned and examined by taking your child with you to a dental appointment. Show them that you get your teeth cleaned as well and discuss the importance of them visiting our pediatric dentistry office so that they understand that everyone in the family needs to do this. Since many children are excited to feel grown up, doing things that mom and dad do can be more fun than feeling forced to visit the dentist.

At home, you can continue to model good behavior by brushing teeth with your child. Most parents will brush their child's teeth while getting them ready for bed. This is a good idea and essential to oral health. If, however, your child doesn't like this plan, you may want to start brushing teeth with them. You can brush your teeth while they brush theirs and by doing it together, they will feel grown up and important rather than like a child being punished with a bedtime routine. The same is true for flossing and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. Tell your child that only big kids and grownups do these things so this is a sign that they are getting bigger. While seemingly simple, children enjoy taking pride in steps that symbolize coming of age and growing up.

You should also talk about your healthy decisions and explain why you are making them. For example, if you are staying away from sour candy because the acid and sugar are terrible for your teeth – talk about it. Engage your child in conversation at the candy aisle. Explain to them why you are buying a chocolate bar for a snack instead of the sour apple candy or better yet, explain why you are skipping the sugar altogether. As a pediatric dentistry office, we know that this type of modeling and involving your child in the process can help them to establish healthy habits for life.

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