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Children’s Dental Exams: What to Expect

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A smiling child in dental chair holding a model of teeth and a tooth brush.

When it comes to your child’s health, their dental well-being is just as important as their physical health. Regular dental exams for children are crucial for helping them maintain healthy teeth and gums from an early age. 

If you’re a parent preparing to take your child for their first dental exam, it can be a daunting experience for you both. But here’s what you can expect.

During a children’s dental exam, the dental hygienist and dentist will assess your child’s overall oral health. This may include examining their mouth and jaw, possibly taking X-rays, providing a cleaning, fluoride treatment, and educating them about proper oral care

The Importance of Early Dental Care

Many parents wonder when to take their children for their first dental visit. According to the Canadian Dental Association, children should see a dentist by their first birthday or within 6 months of their first tooth emerging. And every 6 months after that or as recommended by your dentist.

Early dental visits can help detect and prevent potential dental issues before they become bigger problems. They also allow your dentist to determine if your cleaning routine at home is working. These visits also help familiarize your child with the dental office environment, help create a positive dental experience, and make subsequent visits less intimidating. 

Schedule the Appointment

Scheduling your child’s dental appointment is the first step in helping protect their dental health. When you call to make an appointment, our dental office staff will ask for your child’s age and any specific concerns you may have. Feel free to share any information about your child’s oral habits or previous dental experiences to help the dentist better understand your child’s needs.

Prepare Your Child for the Dental Exam

Helping prepare your child mentally and emotionally for their dental exam can help avoid some fear or anxiety they might experience during their visit. Start by talking to your child about the importance of dental visits. 

Explain that the dentist will check their teeth and answer any questions they might have. You can also watch child-friendly videos or read a book about going to the dentist to help your child understand what to expect.

What Happens Before the Exam

A dental exam usually includes seeing a dental hygienist. The dental hygienist will gently clean your child’s teeth and remove any plaque or tartar buildup to help prevent cavities. The hygienist will also polish your child’s teeth, leaving them clean and smooth. 

In some cases, your child might receive a fluoride treatment. Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent tooth decay. The fluoride treatment is applied as a gel or foam and is often flavoured to make it more enjoyable.

Once your child’s teeth are clean, your dentist will discuss their medical history with you and ask if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s oral health. When your child is comfortable, the dentist will begin the dental exam. 

The Dental Examination Process

The dental exam itself is a gentle and non-invasive process. A comprehensive exam includes checking your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth. The dentist will look for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and any other oral health issues. They may also assess your child’s bite and jaw development.

X-rays to Look Beneath the Surface

The dentist may recommend dental X-rays for a more comprehensive view of your child’s oral health. X-rays can help identify cavities, evaluate the development of adult teeth under the gums, and check for other underlying issues not visible during a regular exam. If X-rays are necessary, rest assured the dental staff will take precautions to ensure your child’s safety during this process.

Education & Tips for Home Care

An essential part of your child’s dental exam is educating both you and your child on proper oral hygiene. The dentist and hygienist will provide valuable information on brushing and flossing techniques tailored to your child’s age. 

They may also discuss dietary habits and limiting sugary snacks and beverages. These tips can empower you to be proactive in your child’s dental health. It’s also a chance to ask questions, address concerns, and learn about age-appropriate dental care products.

Making Dental Exams a Positive Experience

The dentist’s office can be overwhelming, especially for children, and it’s not uncommon for children to have some anxiety about visiting the dentist. Our dental team understands this and works hard to help your child feel comfortable throughout the dental exam. After all, a positive dental experience in childhood sets the stage for a lifetime of good oral health habits and a positive relationship with their dentist.

A dentist using a dental mirror to check a smiling young girl's teeth.

Dental Exams for a Lifetime of Healthy Smiles

Starting early with regular dental visits can help prevent dental issues, create positive dental experiences, and establish good oral hygiene habits throughout your child’s life. By knowing what to expect during their exam, you can help ease their fears or anxiety. A healthy smile means a healthy body and a happy child.Book your child’s next dental exam with Zen Dental Centre. Our dental team is ready to support you and your child every step of the way.

Dr. Ramanjot Sahni

Written by Dr. Ramanjot Sahni

Dr. Sahni attended Boston University, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, where she graduated with high honours from the faculty of dentistry.
After graduation, she moved to South Surrey with her family. Initially, she practiced across the border in Bellingham, WA, USA. Then, she moved back home to be with her family and has been practicing across the lower mainland for a few years.
Dr. Sahni is a member of both the Canadian Dental Association and the American Dental Association. She is licensed to practice dentistry in British Columbia and Washington State (USA).

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