It’s a common question; ‘how often should my child see a dentist?’
After your child’s first visit to the pediatric dentist, you may be wondering when your next visit should be scheduled. It is important to consider a few factors when deciding on the frequency with which your child sees the dentist. Let’s take a quick look at these below.
Regular dental care for your child
In general, kids should visit the dentist at least once every 6 months. This allows for regular dental care to be performed by the pediatric dentist, including a dental exam, cleaning, fluoride treatment and x-ray.
If your child has a healthy checkup with no issues, this does not mean you shouldn’t visit the dentist again for 12 months. Missing an appointment means that your child can go an entire year without a proper checkup, and this can allow important dental hygiene issues to go unchecked, including tooth decay, hidden cavities and inflammation.
Regular 6-month checkups allow your dentist to determine if your child’s brushing habits are effective, if they are brushing too hard or not enough, and if hard to diagnose cavities are present. Healthy checkups are not proof that your child should visit the dentist less, rather they are proof that your visits are worthwhile and that the regular cleaning and fluoride treatment are working to keep your child’s teeth healthy and issue free.
Should my child receive dental x-rays during each visit?
Dental x-rays have a long history of safe usage as an important tool for diagnosing hard to see cavities, impacted teeth and other issues with children’s teeth that may be missed during a visual inspection. For those parents that have concerns about radiation, know that pediatric dentists use lead aprons as a protective measure and digital x-rays that are high speed and limit the amount of exposure time to much less radiation than traditional x-ray machines. Additionally, the amount of radiation involved in dental x-rays is extremely low and the exposure from it represents only a minor contribution when compared to other sources, both natural and man-made.
What if my child has recurring oral hygiene issues?
While checkups every 6 months are the recommended method for maintaining good oral health for your child, those kids that are experiencing recurring dental hygiene issues, such as cavities, inflammation or tooth decay, should visit the pediatric dentist every 3 months. Recurring issues can become problematic for children who are only getting started in developing their dental habits and this is a crucial time to ensure proper cleaning and that the adult teeth that come in are arriving in a healthy oral environment. Since baby teeth make space for the eventual arrival of adult teeth, it is essential that these teeth are maintained properly.
To prevent recurring issues with your child’s teeth, try to keep an eye on their diet, their brushing habits, and any pain they may be experiencing in their mouth, or inflammation that can be seen. Avoid sugary foods, especially before bedtime, and try to reinforce brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. And, as always, make sure they are visiting an experienced pediatric dentist that can keep their teeth clean and answer any questions that parents may have about their dental hygiene and effective daily habits.