Professional Cleanings Are a Critical Component of Dental Health for Kids
Dental caries is the most common childhood disease, with two out of five kids developing a cavity in a baby tooth by age 11 and more than half of adolescents developing one in a permanent tooth. In pediatric dentistry, regular professional teeth cleanings and dental exams are an essential part of ensuring that your child has healthy teeth and gums.
Why Are Preventive Dental Visits Important?
The main reasons children are so vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease are the consumption of sugars and starches and a lack of effective oral hygiene, but even the best brushing and flossing technique won’t remove all of the plaque.
Any plaque that is not brushed away will begin to calcify into tartar after 24 hours, at which point it becomes impossible to clear off by brushing and flossing alone. It takes the tools and skill of a dental hygienist to carefully remove any tartar (calcified plaque) that has built up around and between teeth and below the gum line.
Does My Child Need a Check-up Even If They Have Healthy Teeth?
Not all dental problems are visible to a parent’s eyes. Some cavities can even be painless. We encourage parents to schedule an appointment any time there’s a new problem with their child’s teeth or gums, but skipping regular visits and waiting to come in only when a dental health problem becomes too serious to ignore is unwise.
It’s much better for the child if we can discover the problem at an early stage when treatment is easier. We can also determine the cause of the problem and recommend the right changes to the child’s oral hygiene routine so it doesn’t recur after treatment.
What Should We Expect During a Teeth Cleaning and Exam?
Your child’s dental visit at Smile Center For Kids will consist of several routine steps. If required, the hygienist or dental assistant will take dental X-rays towards the beginning of the appointment. Dental X-rays allow us to detect and diagnose tooth decay between teeth, on hard-to-reach surfaces, and underneath existing dental work. X-rays can even be helpful in identifying dental and orthodontic issues that exist beneath the gum line.
Once it’s time for your cleaning, the hygienist uses a small metal instrument known as a scaler to scrape off tartar above and below the gum line and in between teeth. Next, they polish your child’s teeth using a polishing tool and a lightly abrasive paste to deep clean their pearly whites and remove any tartar left behind after the previous step. Last but not least, they’ll finish with a thorough flossing.
At this point, the hygienist’s work is done and the dentist will take over to perform a comprehensive oral examination. They will:
- examine your child’s teeth for signs of decay
- check for gum swelling and redness, and measure the depth of their gingival pockets to check for signs of periodontal disease
- test how their top and bottom teeth come together and check for signs of teeth grinding or other potential orthodontic issues
- examine their neck, lymph glands, and oral cavity for signs of oral cancer
Stay on Top of Your Child’s Oral Health With Regular Check-Ups
Based on your child’s exam, we’ll discuss any necessary treatment recommendations and offer helpful tips on how to improve your oral hygiene before your next appointment. At Smile Center For Kids, we recommend two visits per year. Give us a call at either our Sunland Park Drive location (915) 213-1200 or our Edgemere location (915) 493-6310 to schedule a check-up.