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How Often Should Children Have Dental Checkups?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) advises parents to make biannual dental appointments for children, beginning approximately six months after the first tooth emerges.

These two important yearly visits allow the pediatric dentist to monitor new developments in the child’s mouth, evaluate changes in the condition of teeth and gums, and continue to advise parents on good oral care strategies.

The pediatric dentist may schedule additional visits for children who are particularly susceptible to tooth decay or who show early signs of orthodontic problems.

What is the purpose of dental checkups?

First, the pediatric dentist aims to provide a “good dental home” for the child.  If a dental emergency does arise, parents can take the child for treatment at a familiar, comfortable location.

Second, the pediatric dentist keeps meticulous records of the child’s ongoing dental health and jaw development.  In general, painful dental conditions do not arise overnight.  If the pediatric dentist understands the child’s dental health history, it becomes easier to anticipate future issues and intervene before they arise.

Third, the pediatric dentist is able to educate parents and children during the visit.  Sometimes the pediatric dentist wants to introduce one or several factors to enhance tooth health - for example, sealants, fluoride supplements, or xylitol.  Other times, the pediatric dentist asks parents to change the child’s dietary or oral behavior - for example, reducing sugar in the child’s diet, removing an intraoral piercing, or even transitioning the child from sippy cups to adult-sized drinking glasses.

Finally, dental X-rays are often the only way to identify tiny cavities in primary (baby) teeth.  Though the child may not be feeling any pain, left unchecked, these tiny cavities can rapidly turn into large cavities, tooth decay, and eventually, childhood periodontal disease.  Dental X-rays are only used when the pediatric dentist suspects cavities or orthodontic irregularities.

Are checkups necessary if my child has healthy teeth?

The condition of a child’s teeth can change fairly rapidly.  Even if the child’s teeth were evaluated as healthy just six months prior, changes in diet or oral habits (for example, thumb sucking) can quickly render them vulnerable to decay or misalignment.

In addition to visual examinations, the pediatric dentist provides thorough dental cleanings during each visit.  These cleanings eradicate the plaque and debris that can build up between teeth and in other hard to reach places.  Though a good homecare routine is especially important, these professional cleanings provide an additional tool to keep smiles healthy.

The pediatric dentist is also able to monitor the child’s fluoride levels during routine visits.  Oftentimes, a topical fluoride gel or varnish is applied to teeth after the cleaning.  Topical fluoride remineralizes the teeth and staunches mineral loss, protecting tooth enamel from oral acid attacks.  Some children are also given take-home fluoride supplements (especially those residing in areas where fluoride is not routinely added to the community water supply).

Finally, the pediatric dentist may apply dental sealants to the child’s back teeth (molars).  This impenetrable liquid plastic substance is brushed onto the molars to seal out harmful debris, bacteria, and acid.

If you have questions or concerns about when to schedule your child’s dental checkups please contact your pediatric dentist.

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Testimonials

"Friendly staff, very clean offices, thorough explanation of services and pro-active maintenance tips, no pain...all you could ask for in a dental team! Thanks"

I came to Hawthorn Woods Family Dentistry, since I had problems with my gums and overall dental health. Dr. Copeland provided a consultation and recommended a long-term treatment plan, which included porcelain veneers and improving my overall dental health in the course of two years. I could not believe the transformation and I enjoyed being part of the process!
Dr. Copeland performed the dentistry for my porcelain veneers, which look natural and help keep my gums healthy. Dr. Copeland gave me the smile I never had, but always wanted and did so in a caring and professional manner.
The staff at Hawthorn Woods Family Dentistry wanted to make sure I was happy and healthy and were accommodating to my schedule by providing appointments that worked for me.
What I like most about Hawthorn Woods Family Dentistry is that the aftercare and preparation were just as important to Dr. Copeland and his staff as the actual dentistry for the final fitting and placement of the veneers.

I went to your office to get a tooth extracted. I wanted to let you know what a wonderful experience I had! Jeffrey Copeland explained everything to me, helped me relax, feel at ease. The best part- I didn’t feel any pain! Never before have I felt more relaxed getting dental work! His assistant, Kristen, was just as comforting.

My sisters, Karen McGuinn and Sue Bowers, are patients of yours and highly recommended I come to you. The best advice I ever received from them!

I can’t say enough about Dr. Copeland. I’m going to recommend everyone I know to your practice!

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