August almost always brings around mixed emotions for many families. There’s the rush to ensure we enjoy these last few weeks of summer holidays, a plan to wring the very most out of summer and then there is also the excitement of back to school shopping for a new outfit, perhaps some shoes or a trendy new backpack. What it might also mean for your family is that it’s time to get caught up on all those appointments you postponed during the school year and then again during the summer! If you have kids, teens and perhaps especially – young adults heading out to college or university – now is the time to schedule your back to school dental appointments.
Establishing routine is so important for little ones, starting from birth and throughout their little lives. Structure and routine help children to thrive, learn good sleep habits, manage, and regulate their emotional temperature and more. Anytime between the ages of about 10 months through to age two is the perfect time to introduce them to the dentist and start establishing an oral health care routine. It might not look like toothbrushing at first; it could simply be rubbing your baby’s first teeth with a tiny, soft bristled brush or even your finger to get them used to the idea of “brushing.” A visit to the dentist might be simply sitting on your lap and allowing the dentist to have a little look around, count erupting teeth and simply “get to know” your child. If your little one is heading off to daycare or playschool in September – a visit to the dentist can be used as part of building up the excitement to trying something new and introducing new adults into their young lives.
School – Aged Children
This is your opportunity to really establish some school related routines. How? Consider purchasing a book or two or borrowing several from your local library that are all about “firsts,” including a first visit to the dentist. Create a “storytime” atmosphere at home and perhaps allow your child a healthy snack, to sip on some water and to listen as you read about the adventures of first day at school, first new friend, or first visit to the dentist. Talk about what “firsts” mean to your child and acknowledge they can be both scary and exciting. Helping children to understand that emotions related to both are ok and encouraging them to talk to you about their fears is important for building trust as they move out into the world and experience new things. Books are a great way to help those conversations get started.
Pre-Teens and Teens
Dr. Loris and many of our team are parents ourselves and we’ve lived through these difficult years! It’s hard for children at this age to manage. Concerns about fitting in, the impacts of puberty, the role that social media plays in our youngster’s lives are all challenging for both kids and parents to navigate. From a dental perspective, this is often the age when they might need some orthodontic care and at least for a few days they may also experience some discomfort for the first time in their lives. Routines established around oral health care and changes to diet while wearing braces are especially important right now and you may also want to talk about pain management techniques that don’t all necessarily depend on pharmaceuticals but rather; things like what our friends at Sick Kids refer to as the “3 P’s: Psychological methods like meditation, breathing exercises and open conversations about pain, Physical approaches such as hot and cold packs, rest, protecting the painful area from unintentional injury and then – also – Pharmacological approaches as needed. Scheduling a visit prior to the start of school also ensures that any real discomfort is experienced before school starts rather than during those all-important first weeks of school.
Before your young adult heads away from home for the first time is a great time to send them off in the best condition you possibly can! Helping young adults at this age is challenging because they don’t think they need any help! They are excited to be leaving the nest and that means they may not be thinking about taking some of those first steps toward independence like scheduling their own dental and doctor appointments. Book them in now so any potential problems can be identified before they leave home and by a dental professional, they are already familiar with because sometimes getting them to come back home for an appointment is hard – if not impossible if they are attending school in another province!
If you are looking to establish some new routines, make sure that oral health care is part of the process. Consider combining an appointment with the Brinkley Family Dental Team in Brampton with a fun activity for the kids to enjoy before the return to school. If your older children are travelling out of province you might want to book sooner than later – or schedule something around their Thanksgiving break when they hopefully get to return home for a visit. No matter what else you do for these young adults – and all your children – you might also want to remind them, as we remind you each month, “Don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and brush that smile!”