A pediatric dental appointment is not all that different from your own appointments as an adult. As with all routine dental exams, these visits provide important preventive care that not only benefits your child’s oral health, but their overall wellness. Here’s what happens during a pediatric dental appointment.
Depending on the age of your child, we may have you hold them for a “knee-to-knee” dental exam, or they might feel comfortable enough sitting in the exam chair. One of our dental hygienists will clean their teeth to remove plaque and tartar buildup. This is important, because plaque that is not removed by brushing hardens into tartar, and tartar can only be removed with professional dental instruments. Both tartar and plaque contain harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease, so removing it is critical for preventing cavities.
After the tartar has been cleared away, the hygienist will let your child pick out a flavor for our special polishing toothpaste, which is mildly abrasive to make teeth shine. Of course, polishing the teeth isn’t just for removing stains and making teeth sparkle—it has a functional purpose, too. Creating a smooth surface makes it harder for new plaque deposits to form. Maintaining that fresh-from-the-dentist feeling with good brushing habits at home can keep plaque from hardening into tartar.
Next, our hygienist will floss your child’s teeth. This gives us the opportunity to discuss good oral hygiene habits and emphasize the importance of flossing at home. During your child’s appointment, we’ll also discuss making healthy food and drink choices, brushing, and answer any questions they might have.
Comprehensive Oral Evaluation
Once the dental cleaning is complete, Dr. Liao will conduct an exam to look at how many teeth your child has, whether they’re erupting properly, and if they have any signs of tooth decay. He will also evaluate the soft tissues of the mouth and assess them for abnormal lesions. If Dr. Liao has reasons for concern, he’ll discuss them with you at this time.
While your child likely gets fluoride from their toothpaste and the water they drink, the fluoride treatments they get from our office play an important role in their dental health. These treatments are much more effective when it comes to strengthening the enamel and preventing cavities. In most cases, fluoride treatments are needed only every six months, but if your child has ongoing issues with tooth decay, we may recommend more frequent treatments.
Radiographs, or x-rays, are not needed for every appointment, but they are recommended on a fairly regular basis, as they allow Dr. Liao to closely monitor your child’s dental health. Radiographs aid in the diagnosis of tooth decay, abnormal growths in the jaw, or potential issues with permanent teeth that have yet to erupt. Because we use digital radiographs, our equipment emits far less radiation than traditional dental x-rays.