For parents, the question of dental exams for children can be very confusing. With a lot of information available online and offline, every parent has to find what is right for their children.
Every parent wants the best for their children. At Puyallup Pediatric Dentistry, we offer the very best in information and services when it comes to dental services for children.
Several questions emerge regarding children and their dental issues, including the details of the first visit, when it should ideally happen, what to expect and how parents should prepare themselves.
When Should My Child Have Their First Dental Visit?
One of the most common questions most parents have is when their child should see a dentist.
Even though one can very easily take their child at an earlier age, especially when there are dental problems, it is recommended that the first dental
visit be within the first year at the latest.
This would ideally be within six months of the first tooth erupting.
The first dental visit should be when the dentist provides information on such issues as mouth cleaning, pacifier habits, infant feeding practices, teething, and such habits as finger-sucking.
The dentist will not only offer the basic information but also offer details on how these might end up affecting the dental health of the child. The dental visit should ideally take between 30 to 45 minutes, a relatively simple process.
Even though the recommendation is to have the first visit during the first year, if this did not happen, parents should not panic.
Depending on the age of the child and whether they have had dental visits before, the first visit should ideally involve a full examination of the teeth and gums, and oral tissues, with the dentist looking at the different dental issues.
If possible, or when required, the first visit might also involve a gentle cleaning.
The first cleaning will involve the removal of plaque, stains, and tartar. The actual cleaning might also involve the dentist showing you different ways to then take care of your child's teeth and develop proper dental hygiene as they grow up.
What is the Dental Examination Process?
Even with all of the information about the possible outcomes of the first dental appointment, nothing prepares the child or the parent for what will happen.
Armed with as much information as possible, one can very easily prepare for the first visit. There are several important steps and elements of the dental examination that every parent must understand.
The first step of the dental exam is a dental cleaning. This is the process done to remove tartar and plaque from the teeth of the patient.
Tartar refers to the calcified plaque, which forms when the plaque settles on the surface of the teeth and stays there for prolonged periods without being removed.
Plaque can very easily be removed through flossing and brushing, while tartar cannot. Over time, this will eventually give the teeth a yellow tint, while also serving as a base for the various acid-producing bacteria.
The tartar will be removed using a metal tool, which will then be followed by a flossing process to clean the teeth and polish them.
The second step in the examination process is a visual inspection.
The visual inspection involves a careful examination of the teeth to look for signs of any dental issues, the first being tartar and plaque.
There might be other, more complex dental problems, especially when visiting the dentist for the first time. It is important to note that dental issues are easier to treat when discovered during the early stages.
As a result, the importance of early detection of any dental issues cannot be understated. Visual inspection should also involve bite inspection. This is the inspection of the jaw to determine whether the teeth align.
A bite inspection might be visual but might also involve some level of x-ray analysis to get a better view of what is going on under the gums.
It is important to note that dental x-rays are not recommended as the first resort for children unless absolutely necessary. The dentist might also record mouth impressions to get a better visual look at the structure of the jaw.
Bite inspection reveals whether there is an overbite or crossbite.
Overbite happens when the top front teeth extend beyond the limits of the bottom front teeth. Many people will have a slight overbite, but when the overbite is more severe, this can be worrying.
The visual inspection also reveals details of crossbite, or the risk of it developing.
This happens in situations when the teeth do not align properly when the mouth is closed. Crossbite might affect a single tooth, or affect a group of teeth, like the front or the back teeth.
Either way, a proper visual examination on a dental visit will reveal all of these issues.
How Can I Prep My Kids for Dental Exams?
The first dental visit can be tedious, so all the parties must be prepared.
First, one must prepare the child for any eventualities.
This means scheduling the appointment as early as possible when the child is still alert and fresh. The parent should also be as prepared as possible. They should ideally be able to discuss their problems and concerns with the dentist beforehand.
Finally, the dentist should also be prepared for the visit. This means they must be given the child's entire history and details of how the child would typically react.
Dental care is a significant part of the child's health.
Pediatric dental care is the first step to a lifetime of healthy teeth. It is during the first appointment for a child's dental health examination that the baseline of dental care will be set.
Visiting us at Puyallup Pediatric Dentistry allows the parent to receive the best advice on how to take care of their child's teeth moving forward, when to come for the next visit, and what to do.
Learn More and Schedule Today!
Call us at (253) 864-9889 and let our Puyallup, WA dental office handle your child's first dental exam.