WHY REGULAR DENTAL CHECK-UPS?
You may already know how important regular dental visits are for keeping your children’s teeth and gums in good shape — besides brushing and flossing, a checkup every 6 months might be the best thing you can do for your child’s oral health. But what you might not know is that there’s a strong relationship between oral health and overall health, so taking good care of your child’s mouth is a big part of taking care of your child’s whole body.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AT MY CHILD’S DENTAL CHECK-UP?
Your child’s age typically dictates what preventive procedures will occur at their visit. Children less than three years of age usually do not tolerate much more than a clinical exam wherein the doctor “counts” teeth and examines all the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. As children mature beyond the age of three, their ability to reason and tolerate more involved preventive procedures increases. A clinical exam along with a cleaning and fluoride treatment can be expected at every check-up visit. X rays are taken periodically and their frequency is determined by your child’s risk factors along with their stage of growth and development. The purpose for all this is to detect early signs of disease in the mouth to either the teeth and or gums. A regular checkup can even be good for your pocketbook. Identifying and treating minor problems like cavities early on can spare you the time and expense of more complicated dental procedures such as a tooth extraction, crowns or root canal. Lastly, some non-dental conditions have symptoms that appear in the mouth. A dental examination can reveal signs of vitamin deficiencies or more serious conditions such as diabetes or oral cancer.
HOW ARE THE TEETH CLEANED?
Although home-based tooth brushing and flossing help remove a sticky film of bacteria called plaque, only a professional cleaning for your child provided by a pediatric dentist or dental hygienist can thoroughly clean the teeth and remove the hardened plaque (called calculus or tartar) that builds up on them. A series of metal hand instruments called scalers are used to clean the tartar off the teeth. Ultrasonic scalers can also be used which provide deep cleaning above and below the gum line. After the teeth have been cleaned, they are polished to remove plaque and stains on the tooth surface. The polish contains a mildly abrasive substance and fluoride, and is applied using a small rotating rubber cup or brush attached to the dental hand piece. Clean teeth help support healthy gums which in turn help support a healthy body!
Why Are The Primary Teeth So Important?
It is very important to maintain the health of the primary teeth. Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth, or baby teeth are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.