Dental exam for children
Dental exam for children
Regular dental exams are an important part of preventive health care. During a dental exam for children, the dentist or hygienist will clean your child's teeth and evaluate your child's risk of tooth decay. A dental exam for children might include application of various protective measures — such as sealants or fluoride treatments — to reduce the risk of decay. A dental exam for children might also include dental X-rays or other diagnostic procedures.
During a dental exam for children, the dentist or hygienist will likely discuss your child's diet and oral hygiene habits and demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques. Other topics for discussion during a dental exam for children might include preventing oral injuries or, for adolescents, the health risks associated with tobacco, substance abuse and oral piercings.
Why it's done
Regular dental exams help protect your child's oral health. Dental exams give your child's dentist a chance to provide tips on caring for your child's teeth, as well as detect any problems early — when they're most treatable.
When to have a dental exam
How you prepare
Before scheduling your child's first dental exam, consider whether you'd be most comfortable visiting your family dentist or taking your child to a pediatric dentist — a dentist who provides specialized dental and oral care to children, from infants to teens. Pediatric dentists typically have child-friendly offices and equipment specially designed for children.
To help prepare your child for a dental exam:
What you can expect
What happens during a dental exam for children might vary depending on the child's age and treatment needs.
Ages 6 months to 1 year
Toddlers, school-age children and adolescents
As your child gets older, dental exams might also include counseling about the oral health risks associated with:
The dentist or hygienist might also discuss the possible removal of your child's wisdom teeth (third molars).
X-rays aren't typically needed at every dental visit. Radiation exposure from dental X-rays is low — but talk to the dentist if you're concerned about the radiation exposure.
After your child's dental exam, the dentist or hygienist will discuss your child's oral health, including your child's risk of tooth decay, any other oral health concerns, and preventive measures you can take to improve and protect your child's oral health. The dentist or hygienist will also recommend the best time to return for a follow-up visit — typically every six months. If your child is at high risk of tooth decay or has other oral health concerns, the dentist or hygienist might recommend more-frequent checkups.
Last Updated: 2012-02-18
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