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How Often Should Kids Visit the Dentist?

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Boy at dentist office having routing dental exam with a big smile to show off teeth

Keeping your child’s mouth healthy and functional relies on a combination of both practicing healthy dental hygiene habits and taking your child in for regularly scheduled dental exams. Bringing your child in for a dental checkup on a consistent basis is the best way to catch any developing dental problems and will help your dentist recommend specific treatment options for the needs of your child. Book an appointment with Maplebrook Dental to kick start your child’s path to a healthier mouth and allow our professional team to provide you and your family the dental care they deserve.

When Should Your Kid Have Their First Dental Exam?

The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends that children receive their first dental exam within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth or by one year of age. By following this recommendation, your child is less likely to develop problems with their teeth early on in life.

3 Reasons Your Kid Should Get a Dental Exam

Taking your child to the dentist for an exam or cleaning helps you and your dentist:

  • Find out if the cleaning you and your child do at home is working.
  • Find dental problems right away and fix them.
  • Teach your child that going to the dentist helps prevent problems.

What to Expect From Your Kid’s First Dental Exam

During your child’s first visit, your dentist may want to take X-rays and begin your child’s dental records. X-rays are used to show the decay between teeth and if your child’s teeth are coming in properly.

Your dentist will also be looking for the potential of crooked or crowded teeth during your child’s first dental exam, as these issues can cause long-term problems depending on the severity. Usually, crooked teeth will straighten out as your child’s jaw grows and the rest of their teeth begin to come in.

If the overcrowded or crooked teeth do not straighten out, it could be possible that your child has a bite problem, which can cause problems with eating and teeth cleaning. Your dentist can suggest potential treatment options for bite problems or can refer you and your child to an orthodontist.

Once your child’s permanent molars come in, your dentist might suggest getting them sealed to protect your child from receiving cavities. The sealant used in this treatment is a kind of plastic that will be put on the chewing surfaces of your child’s molars which will prevent them from trapping food and germs. Your dentist may also talk to you about fluoride its benefits.

How Often Should Your Kid Get a Dental Exam?

The CDA recommends that in most cases, your child should receive a dental exam every 6 months — this lets your dentist catch most dental problems that can develop in early childhood. By receiving an exam every 6 months and taking proper care of your child’s teeth at home, you can help prevent things like early childhood tooth decay and gum disease.

Preventing Early Childhood Tooth Decay

Once your child’s first tooth erupts, they become susceptible to developing early childhood tooth decay (ECTD). Sugary substances and liquids that children depend on like breast milk, baby formula, cow milk, and fruit juice can progress the development of tooth decay. Unrestricted at-will breastfeeding at night may increase the risk of your child developing tooth decay, but the majority of breastfed children do not experience ECTD.

ECTD can happen to children up to the age of 4 — once your child’s first teeth come in, check their mouth once a month for dull white spots or lines on their teeth and any darker than normal teeth. If you see any signs of tooth decay, contact Maplebrook Dental as soon as you can and book an appointment for your child to receive a dental exam.

If you are currently giving your child milk, formula, and/or juice at their bedtime, you may want to slowly wean them out of the habit by:

  • Putting plain water in the bottle — if this does not work, you can give your child a clean soother, a stuffed toy, or a blanket to try and calm them.
  • Watering down your child’s bottle over a week or two until there is only plain water left.

Girl looking in mirror after dental procedure with dentist near by

Keeping Your Kid’s Gums Healthy is Important

While cavities are the main dental concern your child may run into as they grow up, gum disease is also a dental problem that you and your child need to be aware of. Gum disease occurs when the gums that hold our teeth in place get infected.

Make sure your child follows a consistent routine of brushing and flossing every day — if your child’s gums begin to bleed, a new brushing technique should be adopted but you should encourage your child to continue brushing every day. If your child’s gums are swollen, sore, or bleeding all the time, it may indicate a more serious issue and you should consult your dentist for a solution.

Written by Fotini Molnar

Dr. Fotini Molnar started her dental experience working as a dental assistant in a co-op program during high school. She went on to complete her Bachelor of Science, majoring in biotechnology at York University and then obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Toronto. Prior to her career in dentistry, Dr. Molnar researched neuroblastoma at Sick Kids Hospital.
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