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From Pediatric Appointments to Healthy Habits: What Parents Should Know

March 14, 2024
By Ashley M. Verbick, DMD
Park Dental Big Lake

When it comes to establishing good dental habits in children, it’s best to start as soon as possible. And that goes for both children and parents.

Dr. Ashley Verbick, a dentist at our Park Dental Big Lake practice, says she typically first sees patients between the ages of two and four. But there are benefits to booking that first appointment sooner.

Verbick encourages parents to bring their children in for an appointment when their first tooth erupts. Not only is it a chance to educate parents on proper dental care, but by getting children in the clinic earlier, they’ll be more comfortable going in the future.

“There’s so many sounds, sights and smells that can be startling for kids if they’ve never been around it,” Verbick said. “As an infant, it’s a good time to start introducing things slowly.”

Creating a space where children feel at ease

Through our Children’s Care Program, we provide comprehensive dental care services in a kid-friendly environment to help children feel comfortable at the dentist office.

For Verbick, that starts with using a calm, friendly demeanor while talking through what might make a child nervous about visiting the dentist. She also encourages parents to avoid exemplifying nervous behavior around their own visits.

“Lots of times parents are actually more nervous about going to the dentist, and that reflects onto the kid. The kids start wondering….”should I be scared now too”? Verbick said.

In order to further put children at ease, we take a variety of steps to make its space more welcoming. This might include offering stuffed animals or blankets to help kids get comfortable. We also use booster seats in our chairs to help smaller children avoid feeling “swallowed up.”

Flexible options for parents

Of course, a successful appointment start with getting a child in the door in the first place. With busy parents in mind, we offer options to make the process as easy as possible.

Some of our offices are open until 8 p.m., so parents don’t have to take off work or call out children from school in order to make an appointment. Verbick also encourages parents and children to make their appointments at the same time to help streamline scheduling.

“You can always find places open until 8 to keep families from having to take kids out of school, which is really nice,” Verbick said.

And on Saturdays, many of our offices are open exclusively for children’s appointments.

Practicing healthy habits at home

While young children don’t yet have their adult set of teeth, the impacts of their oral health habits can be lifelong.

For example, if left untreated, acid from cavities in baby teeth can make their way down to the base of the tooth and cause damage to the adult tooth underneath. That’s why it’s so important for parents to help children establish good brushing and flossing habits from a young age, Verbick said.

Outside of regular dentist appointments, parents should help monitor their child’s brushing to ensure they’re doing it properly for two minutes twice daily.

“Even with older kids, sometimes it is still worthwhile for parents to check their brushing and monitor that they’re doing a good job,” Verbick said.

At Park Dental, we make going to the dentist a fun and comfortable experience for children. All of our locations throughout the Twin Cities, greater Minnesota and western Wisconsin provide personalized dental care for the whole family! Request an appointment online today.

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