By Dr. Daniel Charland, Burlington Pediatric Dentistry. Mybpd.ca
Creating a dental home for your children at an early age can make all the difference in both their dental health and their interest in maintaining healthy teeth while loving their regular trips to the dentist.
A dental home is the ongoing relationship built between a Dentist and team with a patient and family to support ongoing dental needs in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, compassionate, and family-centered way. In the same capacity as a family doctor provides support, comfort, and consistency of care, a dental home does just that.
Establishing a dental home for children by no later than 12 months of age builds a consistent relationship and presence with a dentist. I can attest that this consistency and relationship creates a solid base for children to both maintain healthy beautiful smiles while cultivating a sense of normalcy around a trip to the dentist, one with little to no fear or anxiety.
Below I have outlined some of the most important qualities of a dental home necessary to provide the highest standard of care for children. Use this checklist to determine whether your child’s dental health is being managed in an environment right for them. Does their dental home provide these essentials?
Child- Centered Care
Pediatric Dentists have 2-3 years of further education making them experts on the dental needs of your child. A pediatric dentist’s specialized skill set and knowledge in an office that is dedicated to children will make for a trusting relationship to be established between child, parent and dentist.
A dental home has a dentist that listens and understands your family and child(ren) and translates that understanding into the planning of long-term dental care. A consistent relationship with a dental home providing compassionate care allows for constant respectful, open, and collaborative conversations pertaining to the dental needs and care of your family.
Comprehensive Oral Health Care
Having a dental home means a place to go for every dental event whether that is an emergency, comprehensive treatment, regular check-ups, hygiene, dental questions or concerns. There is a consistent dentist and team you can rely on in times of emergency and for all regular care. Your dentist is accessible for your family’s dental needs.
Individualized Dental Health Care
A dental home where your dentist and its team take the time to get to know your family’s dental history and your day to day dental health habits allows for the best possible dental care. Having this consistent relationship means the dentist can provide individualized treatment options and tips and tricks for what works best for you. It means there is no cookie cutter or one-size-fits-all treatment.
Having a dental home and a consistent dentist over the years can help you prepare for the next stages of growth and development through education and guidance. There are no surprises and tracking any changes in dental health is made easy. A dentist will quickly know when things have changed when they have a long-term relationship with their patients. The dentist will communicate with you what they foresee happening and make judgments looking forward, not just treating current concerns but anticipating future ones.
Regular preventive dental care and maintenance are always less expensive than treatment. A regular dental exam, along with daily brushing and flossing, is the most important thing you can do to preserve your dental health. Your child’s periodic exam should end with you feeling motivated to partake in their oral hygiene, informed of their growth and development, have a clear sense of cavity risk assessment and updated on any areas of previous concern.