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How Often Should Children Have Dental Checkups

childrenMaking sure your child is getting sufficient dental care

For children, dental checkups in Geneva, NY give Dr. Terri a chance to monitor oral developments, changes in the condition of teeth and gums and advise you the parent on proper ongoing oral hygiene. So how often does your child need this?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) recommends that you take your child to a dentist twice a year, starting six months after their first tooth erupts. If your dentist is concerned with signs of early dental problems or tooth decay, he or she might recommend more frequent visits.

What is the purpose of dental checkups?

It’s important to develop a relationship with a dentist you like and trust. That way, if a dental emergency arises, you’ll have a good “dental home” where your child can feel comfortable and famililar.

Your dentist and his or her staff will keep careful records of your child’s dental history, health and jaw development. Painful dental disorders don’t always develop overnight, so it’s important to have a dentist who is familiar with your child’s history and any potential warning signs.

A dental visit is also often an opportunity for parental education. Regular visits may give your dentist the opportunity to introduce tooth health enhancers, such as sealants, fluoride supplements or xylitol, or change your child’s dietary or oral behavior. This could include removing an intraoral piercing, or transitioning from sippy cups to adult drinking glasses.

Additionally, dental X-rays are a crucial component of regular checkups. Dental X-rays are sometimes the only way to detect cavities in baby teeth, also known as primary teeth. Though not all cavities cause pain, they can quickly turn into larger problems, causing tooth decay and childhood periodontal disease if not identified or treated.

Even if your child seems to have healthy teeth, dental checkups are important

The health of primary teeth can change quickly. Even in just the six months between dental visits, diet or hygiene changes, along with oral habits like thumb-sucking, can open the door to tooth decay or misalignment.

Not only will your dentist examine your child’s teeth during a checkup, but he or she will also clean them thoroughly. This eliminates plaque and debris that can develop between teeth and in other hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. These professional cleanings are not a substitute for proper at-home oral hygiene, but they go a long way to maintaining a healthy smile.

Your dentist will also monitor your child’s fluoride intake, sometimes prescribing a topical fluoride gel or varnish after cleaning. This can re-mineralize the teeth and reduce mineral loss from the enamel covering your child’s teeth, fortifying them against oral acid attacks. Your child may also be given a take-home fluoride supplement — especially if fluoride is not added to the drinking water in your community.

Your dentist may also apply dental sealants to your child’s back molars. Sealants are an airtight liquid plastic that are designed to protect teeth from harmful debris, bacteria and acid.

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