Your child is getting ready for a dental checkup, and you are wondering what to expect. You want to be prepared to answer any of your child’s questions, so it is critical that you are educated on the subject. Find out what to expect, and then share the information with your son or daughter.
Getting to know each other
A dental checkup should always begin with a conversation. Dentists need to know their patients, so they understand what issues they need to look out for during the examination. Parents are encouraged to chime in during this process, as well.
During the discussion, the dentist will go over foods and beverages and also talk about activities that could impact the teeth. For instance, kids who play contact sports need to be evaluated for mouthguards.
A child’s dental checkup also includes a thorough examination. The dentist needs to examine the gums and teeth and make sure everything is lining up as it should.
During the examination, the dentist checks the status of the baby teeth. They should come out on schedule, and if they are not, the dentist needs to find out why. The dentist will also make sure the permanent teeth are erupting at the right time and in the right places.
Dentists also look for issues that could come up down the line. For example, the dentist will determine if the child needs sealants.
Does the child need sealants?
During the examination, the dentist will check the structure of the teeth and determine if sealants are needed. This protective coating is placed on the molars and prevents food from getting stuck in the crevices. This is a good choice for preventing cavities in young children.
It is important to understand that sealants are not substitutes for brushing and flossing. Children must brush and floss to avoid cavities.
Looking closer at issues
In many cases, the dentist will not notice anything wrong during the examination. Sometimes, though, the dentist might notice signs of decay, migrating teeth, impacted teeth, bleeding or other problems. When that happens, it is time to order X-rays.
Dentists limit the number of X-rays that children receive. They only order the X-rays when they need a closer look at an issue.
X-rays do more than give dentists a closer look. The films also let the dentists examine the roots of the teeth, ensuring they are healthy.
A cleaning is an important part of a dental checkup. During the cleaning, a hygienist will use an electric prophy brush to remove tartar. An ultrasonic scaler is used in older children. This tool removes calculus (tartar).
Children should be prepared for the use of hand instruments during the cleaning process. Mouths have lots of hard-to-reach places, and hand instruments allow dentists and dental hygienists to scrape away the tartar.
Get prepared for the checkup
Parents can prepare their kids for dental checkups by explaining what to expect. Parents need to discuss the examination, cleaning and X-rays, so kids will be ready for their appointments. The more kids know, the less likely they are to feel nervous about going to the dentist.
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