Children First: Starting kids early for proper dental care - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Starting kids early for proper dental care

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If only more kids felt about going to the dentist the way 10-year-old Aubrey Lawson of Sheridan does.

"It doesn't hurt ever, really.  The first time at my other orthodontist I was kind of scared, but I came here and it was a really nice building and it just seemed happy here," said Aubrey.

Her dentist, Dr. Kevin McCurry at Whitney Plaza Dental, encourages parents to start taking their kids earlier rather than later for routine appointments.

"Bringing a child who's got a toothache or an abscess tooth; in pain, they've never been to the dentist before and now it's just a terrible ordeal for everybody.  The kid's in pain.  They've never been to the dentist.  They're frightened," said McCurry.

McCurry thinks the American Dental Association's recommendation of the first dentist visit by age one seems too early, but parents need to take the kids at a fairly young age.

"We see them at about two-and-a-half, three and then we try to make the first visit what we like to call a 'happy visit.'  Non-threatening, just fun, and we do as much or as little as they let us," said McCurry.

A recent Pew report shows over half the kids in Wyoming on Medicaid aren't getting proper dental care, but only six percent live in an area without easily accessible care.

"I know the whole population of Wyoming's not getting the dental care they need.  So if the adults aren't, I'm assuming some of the kids aren't as well.  So I've had patients tell me they haven't been to the dentist in 10 years, 15 years, or 20 years," said McCurry.

Of course, kids need to do more than just the occasional trip to the dentist's office for a healthy smile.

"I brush for two minutes-and-a-half.  Sometimes I'll do fluoride at home and I will floss my braces if I get the chance to," said Aubrey.

The Pew report also shows nearly 48 percent of Wyoming dentists are over 55 years old and nearing retirement age.

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