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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.

Testimonials

I can't say enough good things about Dr. Southworth and his entire staff! My two daughters needed a LOT of dental re-alignment, including headgear and recommendations for extractions and periodontal work. Dr. Southworth was one hundred percent up-front, realistic and supportive through all six years of work! He has such a caring approach with his patients, always putting them at ease with a genuine spirit, and patient, understandable explanations of all treatments and plans. I highly recommend Dr. Southworth and his caring staff for any orthodontic needs.

Karen O.

Search no further, you are fortunate to have found an orthodontist who will give it to you straight( pun intended).
Whatever your needs or goals for your child, Dr. Southworth can assist you in understanding all of your options- including the option to not get braces! He is not a salesperson but an extremely well educated and experienced Orthodontist who will offer you and your child a caring and well supported consultation. His inclusion of your child in this process is perfection.
If you do proceed with braces, a kind and supportive team will make the entire process a walk in the park. I had two children who had very different needs. Both had incredible outcomes.
In terms of value, his pricing cannot be beat. There is a well detailed, comprehensive arrangement laid out before services even begin- this means NO SURPRISES! Payment was easy with an extremely reasonable payment plan.
Having his office so convenient is vital for ongoing care and his team makes it incredibly easy to schedule, interface with your regular dentist, and manage all the intricacies of any insurance you may have. They are a pleasure to deal with and I can honestly say after dealing with them for many years, every interaction was a joy.
Choosing the right fit for your orthodontist is critical and we are so blessed to have Dr. Southworth in our area. Some of my friends were not as fortunate and in the end paid more in time, money and stress across the board.
If you are able to utilize his services, you will be more than pleased with both the process and the outcome!

Mary L., Sterling

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