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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.

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Testimonials

I had the unfortunate experience of a severe tooth pain while visiting family in Vista. I called you and you got me right in- Dr. Sarkaria took care of me. She was gentle in touch and spirit and spent unhurried time with me. She was sweet, sympathetic and caring. She gave me immediate pain relief,prescriptions, and advice for the plane trip home to North Carolina the next day. She was correct in her diagnosis and i got it fixed. I would love to live in Vista to be able to visit such a great practice. Thank you so much

J.S.

I just wanted to thank all of you for all your wonderful care of my " bad tooth" experience! I am so thankful to have the best Dr's i ever had! Everyone there is the best at their jobs- but more important everyone is so kind and caring. I feel like i've known you a lifetime! Thanks so much.

Warmly. A. M

I came into this office a few years ago for an urgent need. Found them on goggle and they were the only ones that could fit me in that day. From that point on, after seeing the interaction the Doctors have with the rest of the staff, and how the entire staff treated the patients; I felt very safe and comfortable there. Years later, I still commute sometimes from where i live (nears San Diego airport) up to the office. Yes it's about 50 miles each way but, with the office professionalism, tact, and 'family' environment, I actually looked forward to coming into get something grinded on or my gums poked at! I never thought i'd be able to say that i looked forward to going to the dentist but, this office gave me that 'UMPH'!

A.C.

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