Just like adults, children should visit the dentist every six months for a cleaning and exam. When a child’s first tooth erupts, usually by their first birthday, they should visit the dentist for the first time to start developing lifetime oral health and dental hygiene habits.
Why Do Children Need Regular Dental Appointments?
Studies reveal that up to 40% of all children have developed dental decay by the time they reach school age. But children who see a dentist early and regularly are much less likely to experience early tooth decay.
Cavities and tooth decay can be avoided with regular dental cleanings and checkups. During dental checkups, your dentist will give parents or caregivers essential oral health advice, such as how to brush baby teeth effectively.
Regular dental appointments also aid in the early detection of minor issues before they escalate into something more serious. For example, seeing a dentist early and often can help you break bad behaviors that can harm your child’s teeth, such as sleeping with a bottle of milk or juice. Your dentist can also offer advice on how to help children adjust to drinking from a cup.
Apart from that, children’s dental cleanings reduce plaque. Parents or children may not be able to remove all of the plaque from their child’s teeth with at-home dental care. If plaque isn’t eliminated regularly, it turns into tartar, a sticky coating of food waste and germs that stains teeth over time.
Additionally, children can receive fluoride treatments at the dentist to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities.
What Should I Expect at My Child’s Dental Exam?
Your dentist will ask about your child’s medical and dental history and thoroughly examine their teeth and gums during their first visit. The dentist will also examine your child’s head and neck and open and close their mouth to assess the jaw. X-rays are usually not required until your child is at least three years old unless your dentist suspects a problem.
Digital X-rays will be taken at your child’s dental exams as they grow older to detect bone deformities, cavities, extra teeth, and other potential concerns that aren’t otherwise obvious. Tartar and plaque will be removed regularly, and your child may undergo fluoride treatments.
Dental sealants, which fill cracks where plaque and tartar can accumulate and cause cavities, may be used on young patients with grooves or crevices in their teeth. Sealants are custom-made to match your child’s teeth and are safe and painless.
Children with habits that can harm their teeth’s health and alignment may benefit from habit appliances. Thumb-sucking and finger-sucking are two such habits. A habit appliance can help curb inappropriate tongue posture and swallowing patterns that can lead to dental problems. These appliances may also aid in normal jaw development and alleviate tooth crowding concerns.
Early tooth loss in children may necessitate the use of a space maintainer. As the name suggests, a space maintainer is used to maintain space for adult teeth to emerge by preventing other teeth from sliding into the gap left by a baby tooth’s early loss.
Finally, children with cavities may be given mercury-free composite (white) fillings.