Preventing Problems Before They Start

The health of your child’s teeth and mouth is very important to the well-being of his or her entire body, and while routine brushing and flossing at home is necessary to keep your child’s smile looking its best, visiting the dentist for a comprehensive exam and cleaning is essential. The American Dental Association recommends that your child visit the dentist every six months to ensure his or her teeth stay healthy and smile stays beautiful.

By routinely seeing the dentist for exams and cleanings, your child can:

  • Prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath
  • Avoid costly and extensive dental procedures
  • Have white teeth by reducing staining from food and drinks
  • Shorten the time spent in the dentist’s office
  • Have a smile that will last a lifetime

The Exam

During your child’s exam, Dr. Greenhill or Dr. Jennison will thoroughly examine your child’s teeth and gums for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other health problems. Dr. Greenhill or Dr. Jennison may also want to take X-rays to see what is happening beneath the surface of the teeth and gums. We use digital x-rays which have reduced radiation and help discover dental issues not visible to the naked eye.

Dental Radiographs (X-Rays)

x-raysDental Radiographs (X-Rays)Radiographs (X-Rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed.

Radiographs detect much more than cavities. For example, radiographs may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. Radiographs allow Dr. Greenhill and Dr. Jennison to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs every six to twelve months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. Dr. Greenhill and Dr. Jennison order x-rays depending on your child's cavity risk.  If your child is a low risk for decay, they will increase the intervals between x-rays.

Pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of their patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. High-speed film and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.

Professional Cleanings

The dental hygienist will begin your child’s cleaning by exploring the surface of the teeth to determine if there are any cavities and to examine the quality of existing fillings. The dental hygienist will then perform a periodontal exam to make sure your child’s gums adhere tightly to the teeth, and no periodontal disease or bone loss is present.

Next, the hygienist will carefully clean your child’s teeth with a variety of tools to remove any hard mineral buildup (tartar) from the teeth. Then, the hygienist will floss your child’s teeth, use a polishing compound, and apply fluoride. Cleanings usually aren’t painful, but if your child has any anxiety about the dental exam, be sure to let the hygienist know. They may offer several sedation options to ensure your child’s comfort. If the dentist or hygienist finds tooth decay or gum disease, they will talk to you about changing your child’s brushing or flossing habits. In severe cases, they may recommend antibiotics or other dental treatments. If your child’s teeth and gums appear to be healthy, the dentist will probably recommend that your child continue his or her brushing and flossing routine as usual.

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