Experiencing the growth of a child’s teeth can be an exciting time for parents and caregivers. At this time, the development of healthy lifelong oral health practices like brushing and flossing begins.
When done properly and consistently, these habits prevent tooth decay and the need for future dental procedures.
Several factors regarding oral care come into play, including how often a child should visit the dentist. While there is no one-size-fits-all rule, specific conditions and recommended timeframes for dental checkups help prepare kids to have healthy smiles for years to come.
You can find out more here from The Kids’ Dental Office of Phoenix about some of the recommended services for kids, such as routine checkups, as well as other available services on offer.
This guide discusses them in detail to keep parents informed.
Why Do Children Need Regular Dental Care?
Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases among children. About 42% of children between 2 and 11 have been affected by tooth decay in their primary teeth, and 23% have untreated dental caries. Such conditions have serious effects on oral health, such as infections or even tooth loss.
Dental health issues have an impact on children’s school attendance and performance in the classroom. In truth, it accounts for an average of 142 million school hours lost each year. Dental pain, in particular, has been shown to affect the development of language skills and the ability to concentrate.
When conditions like tooth decay and gingivitis are left untreated, they progress to the point of requiring tooth extractions or other serious restorative procedures. To prevent such risks, children need an effective dental routine. This will involve regular checkups and cleanings along with a healthy diet.
When Should A Child Start Visiting the Dentist?
Children should have their first visit to the dentist with 6 months of the first tooth erupting or by age one. These checkups should then become more frequent — twice a year. First visits mostly center on getting familiar with a dentist’s office, developing a relationship, and receiving guidelines on how best to care for the teeth. Regular visits, afterwards, help ensure:
- Proper teeth alignment
- Prevention or early detection of cavities and tooth decay
- Zero progression of oral health issues
- Effective healthy oral habits
- Confidence and trust in a dentist’s office
Dentists are generally equipped with skills, experience, and technology to promote healthy habits and treat conditions that could lead to severe discomfort.
What to Expect During the First Dental Visit
Although a child’s baby teeth stay eventually fall out, they require the same level of care as the permanent ones. Depending on the child’s age during the first visit, a few steps are generally taken to ensure they feel comfortable with the entire process.
Getting to Know the Dental Patient
The dentist will likely talk to the child and get an idea of the individual’s behavior and feelings towards dentists. The professional may also discuss the visit with the parent or caregiver in a bid to establish trust.
Next, the dentist will conduct a thorough oral examination to assess the condition of the teeth, gums, and mouth. This is a vital part of every checkup to establish a baseline for the teeth’s health in the long term. The results will determine the need for fluoride treatments, x-rays, and other treatments to prevent tooth decay and other dental issues.
Cleaning of the Teeth and Gums
The teeth and gums are cleaned to remove the buildup of tartar, plaque, and bacteria that cause the development of cavities. If needed, the dentist may offer other forms of treatment such as sealants, fluoride, or a restorative dental treatment plan.
Oral Hygiene Education
Finally, the dentist will help the child learn proper brushing and flossing techniques, and also inform the parents about dietary and lifestyle changes that can improve oral health. Specific types and brands of toothpaste or medications that help prevent or treat certain conditions may be prescribed.
Dentistry for Children with Special Needs
Children with special healthcare needs may face challenges when it comes to brushing and flossing, eating certain foods, and maintaining oral health. The dentist will advise the parent or caregiver to help the child develop and stick to a proper dental care routine, and work with them to prevent any oral issues.
Some special healthcare needs include autism, learning disability, orthopedic impairment, emotional disturbance, and intellectual disability. Such conditions require preparing the patient in advance and taking measures to help the child overcome fear and anxiety. The dentist prepares a home care routine parents can follow to help their children develop strong dental habits.
What If Dental Issues Recur?
When issues such as cavities or tooth decay return after regular visits to the dentist, some common reasons could be to blame.
- Continuous intake of sugar-rich foods and drinks
- Oral habits that could cause dental injuries
- Medications that may cause dry mouth and a higher risk for tooth decay and tooth sensitivity
In most cases, the child is just beginning to adjust to a new dental routine or transitioning from primary to permanent teeth. As such, the dentist may recommend dental visits every 3 months to reduce the risk of further oral issues and ensure oral health is maintained.
How to Find the Right Pediatric Dentist
A good pediatric dentist has the skills, knowledge, and experience to work with kids of all ages and provide them with excellent oral health. Some key factors to consider include:
- A spacious and kid-friendly environment
- Approachability and patience
- Top-notch dental care using the latest technology
- Excellent communication skills
- Certification and professional affiliations
Such qualities may help children feel more relaxed about visiting the dentist and ensure they have healthy and attractive smiles for life.
Dental care, especially for children, requires consistent efforts, resources, and education. By understanding how often kids should visit the dentist and what to expect during a first checkup, parents and carers are better equipped to care for their kids’ well-being.
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