Regular dental care is important for all people, regardless of age. Not only are teeth important for chewing and speech development, but oral health is closely related to overall health and wellness.
For optimal oral health, how often should a kid go to the dentist? Here’s what family and pediatric dentists recommend when it comes to scheduling dental cleanings.
What is Preventive Dentistry?
Preventive dentistry refers to the dental services that are designed to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which primarily includes:
- Teeth cleanings. A professional teeth cleaning is performed by a dental hygienist to remove plaque and calculus (hardened plaque) from the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film made of food residue and bacteria that clings to the teeth. If it is not removed, it begins to eat away at the enamel of your teeth, resulting in cavities.
- Oral examinations. A comprehensive oral examination is performed by a dentist. It is used to identify oral and dental health concerns, such as tooth decay and gum disease. It will also include an oral cancer screening.
How Often is Preventive Dentistry Necessary?
Children, as well as adults, need preventive dentistry every 6 months. This is the recommended schedule for the average patient to maintain their dental and oral health. When all goes well, these are the only dental appointments your child should need. With good oral hygiene habits at home, including brushing and flossing, twice yearly dental cleanings and oral exams are usually effective.
Benefits of Regular Preventive Dental Care
There are many benefits to keeping your child on a twice yearly schedule for dental visits, including:
- Keep teeth healthy. Preventive dental care every 6 months helps to keep your teeth healthy. It is still necessary to brush twice a day and floss once a day in between appointments, but twice yearly dental care lowers your risk of tooth decay.
- Keep gums healthy. Keeping your teeth clean also keeps your gums and the soft tissues of your mouth healthy. When plaque builds up on the teeth it can infect the gums, causing gum disease. But dental cleanings can remove the plaque that causes gum disease.
- Early detection. Another important benefit of oral examinations is early detection of dental and oral health problems. If gum disease is detected in the early stage of gingivitis, it is much easier to treat. When cavities are discovered early, they can be easily filled before worsening. Early detection of oral cancer significantly improves outcomes for patients.
- Preserve the natural teeth. Preventive dental care, especially in childhood, preserves the natural teeth. Healthy primary teeth establish a foundation for healthy permanent teeth. A lifetime of regularly scheduled dental care can ensure that your natural teeth stay in place for the rest of your life.
- Save money. Regular dental care can save you money in many ways. In most cases preventive dentistry is free with dental insurance. And it can help you avoid restorative procedures that can cost more out of pocket. Keeping your natural teeth also prevents the need for costly replacements.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pediatric Dental Care
Are children’s teeth cleanings covered by dental insurance?
If you have dental insurance that includes your child as a covered dependent, regular dental cleanings and exams are typically covered at 100%. In some cases there may be a copay required.
What can happen if children don’t have regular dental visits?
Missing dental appointments can result in cavities, tooth infection, gum disease, and a general decrease in health. Teeth may be lost prematurely due to poor oral health, resulting in lack of proper nutrition and speech difficulties.
Why Choose a Family Dental Practice?
There are pediatric dental practices that serve children, and certain dental practices that only serve adults. But a family dental practice serves patients of all ages, making it possible for families to go to a single location for all of their dental health needs.
Emerson Dental is a family dental practice serving Bedford and Westford, Massachusetts, and we are currently welcoming new patients. If it has been more than 6 months since you or your child have been to the dentist, please contact us today and schedule an appointment.