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Dental Care for Preschoolers

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Show your child just how benign a visit to the dentist can be. Let her accompany you on one or two routine visits before her own first appointment. Just make sure she doesn't come along if you're having root canal work!

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Your preschooler should visit the dentist twice a year. If you do not have a dentist of your own with whom you feel comfortable, you may want to look for a pedodontist, a dentist who specializes in children's teeth. Although your own dentist might be just fine for your child, a pedodontist may have a bigger bag of tricks to ease your young child's anxieties and to relieve or eliminate pain.

Though cavities are relatively rare among preschoolers, regular dental visits will allow your dentist to make sure your child's teeth are coming in correctly. They will also allow your child to get accustomed to the idea of going to the dentist. (Take care to avoid transferring any negative feelings you may have about visiting the dentist to your child.) At every visit, stay with your child to talk to her and to hold her hand if she needs it.

Besides regular visits every six months, schedule extra visits if your child complains of tooth pain or if you notice any unusual discoloration. (Discoloration may be caused by decay that has deadened the tooth.) A chipped tooth, which can leave dangerously sharp edges, also should be seen by a dentist.

Of course, cavities are no fun. If your preschooler has a deep cavity, it will hurt when drilled. Yet even with a surface cavity, your child will have to endure the water pressure and the frightening and annoying whirr of the dentist's drill.

If your preschooler needs a cavity filled, it may help if you give her at least a small degree of information and control. Ask your dentist to use a mirror to show your child her cavity both before and after the filling. Then let your preschooler signal the dentist whenever she needs to take a break, and make sure you have a dentist who will honor such requests. If your child has no control over the process and feels overwhelmed and tortured, good luck getting her back in the chair for her next visit, cavities or no cavities.



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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Preschooler and Toddler, Too © 1997 by Keith M. Boyd, M.D., and Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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