Dental care for kids

Liss and I are lucky enough to call Dr Dan a family friend as well as our family dentist. He works at Ben Swindley Dental with his business partner, Ben. The dental surgery is located at Q SuperCenter on the Gold Coast. We highly recommend Dan or Ben as your new family dentist for their knowledgable and gentle approach to dental visits. We love going there because they have a great waiting room for kids (we've never waited longer than 5 minutes though!), the reception staff are super duper friendly and helpful and each child gets a little present after their treatment. My kids actually fight over who gets to go first! I emailed Dan some questions and his answers are below...

1. Hi Dan, what made you decide to become a dentist?

I had the privilege of coming from a family with a medical background, so I naturally was interested in finding work experience in medicine and dentistry. I found I really enjoyed the experiences I had watching and observing different dentists. Aspects I liked included the fact dentists have to problem solve, work with their hands and work with people. So I decided to pursue dentistry, a decision I am still very happy with.

Dan Howes the dentist

2. What age should children start coming to the dentist?

Three is a good age to start seeing the dentist. However any trauma, discoloured teeth, abnormal spots on the teeth, inflamed soft tissue, and pain are all reasons to come earlier or at any time.

3. Are baby teeth important?


Baby teeth are very important. They are functionally and aesthetically important for the growing healthy child. They also have to last a long time, so caring for them as if they were permanent teeth is just as vital. Some baby teeth will fall out as late as 15 years old and if adult teeth are missing the baby tooth may need to assume the role of the permanent tooth and last many more years!

4. What should I expect from my Childs first visit to the dentist?

As a dentist we always want to make a first visit fun, not painful and not scary and introduce the child to a whole new experience in a way that regular future visits are not something to dread or worry about. Basically the important thing is that the dentist has a good look at all the teeth and soft tissue and if the child is really compliant may do a quick gentle clean.

5. How often should my child go to the dentist?

In a perfect world, every 6 months

6. Can I take my child to a ‘normal’ dentist or do they need go to a specialist paediatric dentist?

A ‘normal’ dentist is always the best place to go first. If the ‘normal’ dentist then advises you that maybe a paediatric dentist would be better at this moment in time for your child or for any specific reason, then the ‘normal’ dentist can refer you to the paediatric dentist.

7. When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?

From a couple of months old long before teeth come through is a good time to start brushing your child’s gums. This helps a little bit with cleaning but more importantly gets your child used to the feeling of the toothbrush before teeth come through. Especially considering once teething begins kids can be more difficult when you attempt to brush.

8. Does using a dummy and thumb sucking ruin my childs teeth?

Past 2 or 3 years old it is good to wean your child off the thumb or dummy as prolonged use can move the teeth and change the bite to varying extents. However there is not much wrong with using the thumb or dummy before then, as they can be fantastic soothers for your child. I personally prefer the dummy over the thumb because once you decide to wean or child off, it is much easier to take away than the thumb.

9. Will my child require an x-ray and are dental x-rays safe?

X-rays in general are only taken when needed as they can be a fantastic diagnostic tool, especially if your child has had trauma or some form of pain. The small intra-oral xrays taken at the dentist are very low radiation and are similar to walking in the sun for about half an hour, and are therefore very safe when not taken too often.

10. I want to encourage my kids to brush their own teeth but how will I know if they are doing it correctly?

These are good questions to ask when you see the dentist and they can show you brushing techniques. In general it is good for your children to try themselves maybe in the morning but every night before bed it is important for the parent to help and make sure it is done properly right up till when your children are about 8 years old and much more dexterous.

how to get kids to brush their teeth


11. Do you recommend electric toothbrushes for kids over ‘normal’ toothbrushes?

This is more of a personal preference. There is clear evidence to suggest electric toothbrushes do a better job. However manual toothbrushes are definitely good enough particularly if you take your time and brush well.

12. Do I need to floss my child’s teeth?

I am a big believer in flossing and the sooner you start the better. Once your child’s molars are through especially if the teeth are touching each other it is good to start flossing. In reality I know this can be a challenge but if you can aim for a couple of times a week that would be great. The gold standard would be every night.

13. What should I do if one of my child’s teeth are knocked out?

As a rule of thumb if your child’s tooth is knocked out never try put it back in the socket. (A permanent tooth you would try to put back in) Baby teeth should never be put back in. However every situation is different and the best thing is to keep the piece of tooth and get to a dentist as soon as possible

14. My child is a bit anxious about the dentist, how can I make it easier for them?

It is very important that as a parent if you have personal fears of the dentist not to pass those onto your child. The dental surgery is definitely not a scary place and I think the more you mentally prepare your child for the dentist and explain to them what to expect the easier it is. Most of the time your child will end up enjoying their visit to the dentist. In extreme circumstances, where anxiety is a real problem, still go to the dentist and then the dentist can refer you to a paediatric dentist. If needed, your child can then be put to sleep for treatment.

15. My child hates brushing their teeth and screams when try to help. What can I do to encourage good dental hygiene without the scream-fest?

As a parent myself, I think routine is the best way to overcome this. Screaming is normal but the more you brush and practice and make it part of your child’s nightly routine the less and less your child will resist and scream. It is also important that your child sees you brush regularly so they know that you brush too and it is nothing to scream over or be scared of.

Thank you so much for these answers to our questions Dan! A few of the answers surprised me - especially the flossing every night and the electric toothbrush! Also I didn't realise you should start brushing your babies teeth before they come through. It all makes so much sense now though. If you've got any more questions for Dr Dan, please feel free to get in contact with him at Ben Swindley Dental on 07 5578 5366.

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1 comment

  • These are great tips! My little one is getting ready to turn 3 and we need a better system in place for her and now I have one!

    Megan

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