Childhood Dental Exam
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see a dentist at least twice a year, starting at the age of one year. Early dental exams allow the dentist to identify problems promptly and allow the child to become accustomed to the exam and feel more comfortable during the procedure. Many parents choose a pediatric dentist for their children. Pediatric dentists specialize in treating children and are trained to identify and recommend appropriate treatments, including orthodontia and oral surgery.
At the first dental exam, the dentist usually explains to the parents how to brush and floss their child's teeth correctly. Even babies need flossing, once they have two teeth that are touching. Once the child's primary teeth (baby teeth) have all come in (around age 2 1/2), the dentist may begin applying fluoride to the surface of the teeth. Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel and helps to prevent cavities and other dental diseases.
As the child grows, routine medical care includes regular dental cleanings to remove plaque that builds up on the teeth and can lead to cavities and gum disease and regular fluoride treatments. Dentists often remind the child and his or her parents about good teeth cleaning habits at these appointments.
The dentist also examines the child's teeth, soft tissues (e.g., gums, tongue), and jaw for signs of abnormalities. Existing medical conditions and medications should be reported to the dentist, as these factors can have an effect on dental health. In some cases, dental x-rays are performed to diagnose a condition or prepare for treatment, such as orthodontia.