Among children in the United States, 52% have had a cavity in their primary or baby teeth. Additionally, 57% of adolescents aged 12-19 have had a cavity in their permanent teeth.
Aside from cavities, there are many other oral health conditions that can affect your child’s smile and overall health. Thankfully, regular dental checkups can help.
Here’s what you need to know and why you should schedule checkups for your child.
Prevent Against Cavities and Infection
Your child needs to keep their teeth and gums clean to prevent infection and cavities. If they’re too young to do it themselves, you need to help and teach them proper oral hygiene habits.
For instance, regular brushing helps to fight bacteria and plaque, which can result in cavities. Unfortunately, cavities are very common in children.
Cavities are formed when the acids from plaque erode minerals in your tooth’s enamel, thus resulting in a small hole. Acid and bacteria can then make their way into the dentin. Within the dentin are small tubes that connect to the nerve and can cause sensitivity.
If the acid and bacteria continue to work through the teeth, it can affect the pulp, resulting in swelling, irritation, and pain. In rare cases, if tooth decay becomes severe, it can result in more serious infections.
Although you can teach them good habits as a parent, only a dentist can examine their teeth to look for cavities and other problems.
Dentists Can Check for Proper Tooth Development
Although most babies will start teething at around three months, the first teeth usually develop between six and nine months. That said, babies will develop their teeth at different rates.
As soon as the first teeth erupt, you can take your child to the dentist. Only their dentist can ensure that the teeth are developing properly, which is why it’s critical to start scheduling those appointments early on.
From there, most dentists recommend bringing your children in every six months to look for any developmental problems, signs of disease, or cavities.
X-Rays Detect Patterns and Problems
When it comes to oral hygiene, many issues are hidden below the gum line.
Low-radiation x-rays allow your dentist to look for eruption patterns, check on your child’s orthodontic status, look for abscesses, tooth decay, and more.
It’s especially important for children to get regular checkups and x-rays as their teeth are still developing. It’s vital to ensure those adult teeth come in nice and straight, which brings us to our next point.
Your Kids Might Need Braces
A regular dental checkup allows your child’s dentist to keep an eye on the status of their teeth and gums. In some cases, your child may need braces.
Signs a child may need braces include:
- Difficulty biting or chewing
- Grinding teeth
- Thumb sucking
- Crowded or misaligned teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Irregular loss of the baby teeth
- Misaligned jaw (overbite, underbite, crossbite)
- Disproportionate teeth or jaw
That said, only a dentist or orthodontist can determine whether your child might need braces. If that’s the case, you can discuss the different types of braces and treatment options, and they will recommend you to an orthodontist for the actual treatment.
What happens if a child doesn’t get braces when needed? It can result in misaligned teeth and jaw, which can cause trouble chewing, biting, and speaking, as well as discomfort or pain.
Dentists Fill Cavities
If your child develops a cavity, it’s crucial to see a dentist and have it filled as soon as possible. Dental fillings halt the progression of decay. They can also help to restore a tooth’s appearance and function.
By getting a dental filling early, you help to prevent further deterioration of the tooth. Fillings also act as a barrier, blocking harmful bacteria.
If cavities go ignored or dental decay encompasses a larger area, your child may need dental crowns, which are more expensive.
Dentists detect cavities by using special tools, such as a metal probe, dyes, laser fluorescence, and x-rays.
They Teach Your Kids Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Although parents try to teach their kids good habits, it helps to have a dentist to encourage them as well. Additionally, there may also be times when a parent doesn’t know the best habits or techniques.
A dentist can teach kids flossing and brushing techniques, as well as how long to brush. For instance, many children (and adults) don’t know that you need to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day minimum. Many of us overestimate how long we brush, so it can help to set a timer.
Dentists will also teach your children about the importance of flossing, which foods to avoid, and other good habits.
The more your child hears this advice, the more it will stick with them. Good lifetime habits begin young!
Dentists Perform Regular Cleanings
In addition to daily brushing and flossing, your child needs to go to the dentist for dental cleanings. Professional cleanings remove plaque, prevent decay and gum disease, avoid tooth loss, and allow the dentist to examine your child’s teeth and gums.
Brushing, flossing, and mouthwash help to maintain a healthy smile, but even they only go so far. That’s why it’s vital to get your child in for regular cleanings and checkups.
Schedule Dental Checkups for a Healthy Smile
Getting regular dental checkups and dental cleanings have many benefits, especially for your young children. Kids are still developing, as are their teeth and jaws, which is why getting a checkup every six months is so critical. Regular checkups also catch problems early on, like cavities, and prevent further damage.
Here at Prime Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we want your child to have a beautiful, healthy smile. Contact us to set up an appointment today.