a dentist examines a child's teeth

How Often Should A Child Have a Dental Cleaning?

Team Pediatric Dentistry

Children, like adults, should go to the dentist for a cleaning and an exam every six months. Children should see the dentist for the first time when their first tooth erupts, or by their first birthday to begin lifelong healthy oral health and hygiene habits. 

Reasons Children Need Regular Dental Appointments

Studies show that as many as 40% of children develop tooth decay by the time they start school. However, children who see a dentist early and regularly are far less likely to develop early decay. 

Regular dental cleanings and exams will help to prevent cavities and tooth decay. During dental visits, your dentist will provide the parents or caregivers helpful advice for maintaining excellent oral health, such as how to properly brush small teeth. 

Regular visits to the dentist also help to identify minor problems early on, before they develop into more complex problems. For example, seeing a dentist early and regularly can help to break unhealthy habits that may affect your child’s teeth, such as falling asleep with a bottle of milk or juice. Your dentist can also provide tips for helping children to transition to drinking from a cup.  

Beyond that, regular dental cleanings for children remove plaque. Children or parents can’t remove all of the plaque from their child’s teeth. Plaque, which begins as a sticky film of food debris and bacteria, becomes tartar if not regularly removed. Tartar will eventually stain teeth. 

Children can also receive painless fluoride treatments at the dentist. Fluoride helps to strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay (cavities).

What to Expect at Your Child’s Dental Exams

During your child’s very first dental exams, your dentist will ask for medical and dental history, and provide a complete examination of your child’s teeth and gums. The dentist will also examine the head and neck and may open and close your child’s mouth to evaluate the jaw. X-rays are typically not necessary until at least the age of three unless your dentist sees a potential problem. 

As your child grows up, digital X-rays will be taken during dental exams to identify bone defects, decay, extra teeth, and other potential problems not visible to the naked eye. Regular cleanings will be provided to remove tartar and plaque, and your child may receive fluoride treatments.  

Children who have an abundance of grooves or crevices may also get dental sealants. Sealants are used to fill in crevices where plaque and tartar are likely to build up, resulting in cavities. Sealants match your child’s teeth and are safe, and completely painless. 

Habit appliances may be recommended for children with habits that can affect the health and alignment of teeth. These habits include thumb-sucking or finger-sucking. A habit appliance can help not only with breaking a habit, but with improper tongue position, and swallowing patterns. They may help promote proper jaw growth and help with crowding issues.

Children who lose baby teeth early may also be fitted for a space maintainer. As its name implies, a space maintainer is used to maintain room for adult teeth to erupt, by preventing other teeth from shifting into the space created by the early loss of a baby tooth. 

Finally, children who develop tooth decay may receive composite (white) fillings that are mercury-free. 

Schedule Your Child’s Dental Appointment in Vero Beach

To schedule your child’s cleaning and dental exam, contact Dental Buddies of Vero Beach today by calling 772-226-6888