While most parents have heard of dental cleanings
, some may not know the difference between cleaning and an exam, and why it's important for your child. A dental exam is essentially a checkup for your child's gums and teeth. This is crucial to maintain their oral health, as dental problems can become serious and painful if left untreated for long. At Great Grins for KIDS - Oregon City, these exams aid us in locating and identifying tooth decay as well as gum disease and other dental health threats early on, so we can eliminate them while treatment is still easier.
This also gives us opportunities to educate parents and their children about how to keep up with their oral hygiene and practice the appropriate habits for preventive dentistry. If your child is due for a dental exam
and you want to make an appointment or have any questions answered, call us at 971-470-0045.
When Should Your Child Get a Dental Exam?
Most children should get an oral exam every six months. They may need more frequent visits if they exhibit the following signs: Swollen, bleeding gums (called gingivitis) or gum disease. Some children experiencing these oral health problems schedule appointments three-four times per year. Visiting more often can also help prevent a worse progression of gum disease called periodontitis, which can result in infection and losing teeth.
It’s best for a baby to get their first appointment within six months of his/her first tooth coming in (12 months old). Afterward, the child should have future exams set up every six months unless Dr. Fariba Mutschler or Dr. Mark Mutschler gives a different recommendation. Your child may also require subsequent visits if a problem is found with oral health and growth obstacles like tooth development.
Who Performs Dental Exams?
An exam is commonly performed by a dentist (doctor specifically trained to care for teeth and gums) and a dental hygienist (healthcare professional trained to clean teeth and help educate patients on healthy dental habits) from our team.
What Are the Steps of a Dental Exam?
The steps to this procedure involve preparations, then the exam and cleaning.
|Cleaning from one of our hygienists.
|X-ray, during specific appointments. A thick covering called a lead apron is placed over your child's chest. They may also be given a secondary covering over their neck to protect their thyroid gland. These both shield their body from any radiation. Oral x-rays typically have your child bite down on a small piece of plastic before a scanner on the outside takes a picture of their mouth. For some forms of x-rays, this process must be repeated multiple times, following instructions to bite down in different areas of the mouth. Bitewing x-rays are used most often, to check for cavities or other teeth problems, whereas a full mouth series x-ray may be performed once every few years to determine your overall health.
|Your child is seated in a large chair with an overhead light bright enough to see every area inside their mouth, so no stone goes unturned (metaphorically). Safety glasses are provided, however, when needed or requested.
|Using small dental tools, we begin scraping your child's teeth very precisely to remove all plaque and tartar.
|We floss their teeth, then brush them with an advanced electric toothbrush.
|A gel or foam of fluoride (a mineral that prevents tooth decay) may be applied to their teeth. This is more often done for kids than adults.
|We might provide your child with some tips to improve their at-home preventive dentistry if there are areas with room for improvement, including proper flossing and brushing techniques.
|Your child will receive a final checkup from Dr. Fariba Mutschler or Dr. Mark Mutschler in which their x-rays are reviewed, if they've been given them, for any red flags such as cavities. Their bite will be tested to make sure the top and bottom teeth fit together normally. Lastly, they'll be checked for any signs of oral cancer under the jaw, on the sides of the tongue, the inside of their lips, and the roof of their mouth. An additional checkup will often be performed on kids to make sure their teeth are developing right.
Should Your Child Do Anything to Prepare for a Dental Exam?
If your child has certain health conditions, antibiotics may be needed before the exam. These conditions include heart problems, immune system disorders, and recent surgery. If you’re uncertain about whether your child requires antibiotics, please speak with us beforehand.
Parents must also be informed that some kids will experience anxiety and stress about visiting the dentist. If you or your child should feel nervous, you should also let us know about that ahead of time, so we have the chance to make the patient as comfortable and at ease as possible during treatment.
Risks to Dental Exams
Dental exams almost never carry significant risk. Your child might feel some discomfort during the cleaning process, but pain is rarely experienced. A topical anesthetic can also be administered before the cleaning to eliminate any pain.