Dental Checkups for Children and Adults
Infants and preschoolers
By the time your child is 6 months old, your doctor should assess the likelihood of your child having future dental problems. This may include a dental exam of the mother and her dental history, because the condition of her teeth can often predict possible problems with her child's teeth. If the doctor thinks your child will have dental problems, be sure your child sees a Reference dentist Opens New Window by his or her first birthday or 6 months after the first Reference primary teeth appear Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, whichever comes first. After your first visit, schedule regular visits every 6 months or as your dentist recommends.
Experts recommend that your child's dental care start at 12 months of age. Babies with dental problems caused by injury, disease, or a developmental problem should be seen by a children's (pediatric) dentist right away. If these dental problems are not limited to the surfaces of the teeth, your baby should also be seen by a children's doctor (Reference pediatrician Opens New Window) or your family doctor.
The Reference U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Opens New Window recommends that doctors prescribe Reference fluoride Opens New Window to preschool children older than 6 months of age whose primary water source lacks enough fluoride.Reference 1
For more information, see the topics Basic Dental Care, Mouth and Dental Injuries, and Mouth Problems, Noninjury.
Adults, teens, and school-age children
See your dentist once or twice a year. Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums for signs of Reference tooth decay Opens New Window, Reference gum disease Opens New Window, and other health problems.
- Your Reference dental hygienist Opens New Window will begin to clean your teeth by scraping hard mineral buildup (tartar) off your teeth with a small metal tool. Then the hygienist will floss your teeth, use a polishing compound, and apply fluoride. Cleanings usually aren't painful.
- Sometimes your dentist will want to take
Reference X-rays. The X-rays take only a few minutes.
- Your dentist or technician will have you put on a heavy apron to shield your body from X-rays. Everyone else in the room will either wear a protective apron or step behind a protective shield.
- Your dentist or technician will have you bite down on a small piece of plastic. This will help align your teeth properly for the machine. Your dentist or technician will repeat this process several times to get pictures of all your teeth.
- If needed, your dentist will put a Reference sealant on the chewing surface of your back teeth to help prevent cavities. Sealants keep food and bacteria from getting stuck in the rough chewing surfaces or grooves of your teeth, and they protect your teeth from Reference plaque Opens New Window.
- If you are prone to infections, you may need to take antibiotics before you have any dental work. This includes people who:
- Your dentist or hygienist may ask you about the foods you eat. What you eat and whether you get enough Reference vitamins Opens New Window and Reference minerals Opens New Window can affect your dental health.
- If you have active tooth decay or gum disease, your dentist will talk to you about changing your brushing or flossing habits. In severe cases, he or she may recommend antibiotics or other dental treatments. If your teeth and gums appear to be healthy, your dentist will probably recommend that you continue your usual brushing and flossing routine.
For more information, see the topics Basic Dental Care, Tooth Decay, and Oral Cancer.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference April 18, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry