I have a 2 1/2-year-old daughter and I have trouble getting her to brush her teeth. I have to brush her teeth at least 3 times a day because she has a cavity in her front tooth. She was doing OK but lately she starts to scream every time I brush her teeth, and she even coughed until she threw up everything she ate. I don't know what to do - have any suggestions?
From: Rasha, Irving, TX
I ran your question past Dr. John R. Liu, President of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Here's what he said:
"The critical piece is that the cavity is most likely the source of the pain and needs immediate attention by a pediatric dentist. [The mother] can brush on a fluoridated toothpaste with a Q-tip or her finger rather than using a brush as a temporary measure but, ultimately, seeing the pediatric dentist as soon as possible is the best thing at this point."
He characterized your question as "urgent." So did I because dental pain is nothing to trifle with and could have a negative effect on your daughter. I'm speaking from personal experience. I was so traumatized by dentistry as a young child (6, 7, 8), that I developed a phobia and stayed away from the dentist for nearly 20 years as an adult which, needless to say, was not good for my teeth. So: there's a reason pediatric dentistry developed as a specialty!
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that every child see a dentist or pediatric dentist by their first birthday. Liu said, "Even though these are only "baby" teeth and will eventually fall out, it is important for good overall health to have good oral health. Starting out with helpful information and guidance from a pediatric dentist and his/her team will ensure that children will grow up with a healthy mouth and enjoy a lifetime of being pain-free and cavity-free." Here are some tips on helping kids who resist brushing.
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