At what age should my child visit the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child's first visit to the dentist should occur by 12 months of age. This visit will enable the dentist to evaluate your child, introduce you to proper oral hygiene, and help establish a dental home. Tips on diet, fluoride, finger/pacifier habits, and tooth eruption will be discussed to ensure your child’s optimal dental health. We continue to see your child every six months until college! It’s amazing, and so satisfying, to see the transformation of our patients from toddler to teen!!
Why are "baby teeth" important?
Primary teeth are more commonly known as "baby teeth”, but these teeth serve so many important functions as your child grows. The first tooth is usually lost around age 6, however, the primary molars remain in place until 11 or 13 years of age. These teeth are necessary for proper chewing, speech, development of the jaws and the overall aesthetics of your child, well into eight grade. Care of their primary teeth is so important, not only to maintain proper function and alignment but also to help them avoid a number of unpleasant conditions, such as the development of caries or in advanced cases, pain or infection.
How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?
You should have your child’s teeth checked and cleaned twice a year, although your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend more frequent visits if the risk for decay or problems is high.
Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your child’s teeth and gums. During these visits, your child’s teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, there are many other parameters that are assessed and monitored at each appointment to help detect, prevent, and maintain their dental health. These include:
Medical history review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications, and illnesses, gives us insight to your child’s overall health, as well as your child’s dental health and how one may impact the other.
Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions during their development.
Oral cancer screening: Checking the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
Gum disease evaluation: Checking the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease or inflammation.
Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
Examination of existing restorations: Check the condition of current fillings, sealants, crowns, etc.
Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line, and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
Teeth polishing: Removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during normal tooth brushing and scaling.
Oral hygiene recommendations: Review, instruct and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed (electric dental toothbrushes, special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc.).
Review dietary habits: Your child’s eating habits play a very important role in their dental health.
As you can see, a good, thorough dental exam and cleaning involve quite a lot more than just checking for cavities and polishing your teeth. We are committed to providing your child with the best possible care, and to do so will require regular check-ups and cleanings.