Did you miss part I of this three part series? Read Jan’s first post, “When your Child Has Reflux,” first.
When your toddler or child has Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), it is important to locate a dentist to help you manage dental care and reduce cavities. I highly recommend finding a pediatric dentist, a dentist with additional training in pediatrics. If you need assistance locating a pediatric dentist, ask your Pediatrician for a referral or go to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website at www.aapd.org and use the dentist locator.
Whether or not your child has GERD, the AAPD recommends scheduling an office visit when your child is one year of age or when the first tooth erupts. It is extremely important for a toddler or child with GERD to have regular dental appointments beginning in infancy. The dentist may be able to prevent dental problems with fluoride treatments and sealants (a special coating applied to the surfaces of the teeth to protect the enamel). Best of all, the dentist will give you advice on age-appropriate home care.
Our pediatric dental office is kid friendly from the moment you enter the door. There is a two story play gym and child sized furniture in the waiting area. The treatment areas are full service with kid sized sinks for brushing, a TV screens at each examination station with the latest DVD’s. While the kids wait for the dentist, they can play video games or select prizes and stickers from the prize drawer. The dental staff explain everything they are doing in simple language and help the children feel comfortable and in control. Each child leaves with a Goodie bag filled with prizes and dental care products. This is so different from the dental experience I had as a child
A pediatric dentist will help you:
- Develop age appropriate tooth brushing routines at home.
- Select the best toothbrush for your child’s age and size (small with soft bristles is better than large with hard bristles).
- Offer advice on healthy eating to prevent cavities (reduce sugar, juice, sticky foods and increase vitamins and calcium for healthy teeth).
- Make going to the dentist a positive experience.
What parents can do:
- Be extra vigilant about scheduling regular visits with the pediatric dentist. Most dentists recommend a visit every 6 months. A child with GERD may need to be seen more frequently.
- Talk to the pediatrician and the pediatric gastroenterologist about healthy eating to keep teeth healthy.
- Talk to the pediatric dentist about managing oral sensitivity from GERD.
- Consult a speech therapist or feeding team about severe oral sensitivity if it affects dental care and eating.
It can seem overwhelming to manage the dental problems from GERD as well as the GERD. I think it is easy to overlook dental care when there are so many day to day challenges from GERD. By partnering with a pediatric dentist, you will find the best treatment approach to protect the teeth during a critical time. Make home dental care a “must do” activity, just like giving medication.