Should children be seeing a family dentist or a pediatric dentist? While many adults and teenagers see a general or family dentist for all dental concerns, is that the best choice for children? This decision is a dilemma that many parents face as young children begin to develop baby teeth. While for some parents the…
How Often Should a Patient See a Pediatric Dentist?
For children, regular visits to a pediatric dentist are necessary to ensure proper development of teeth and to prevent any common childhood issues, such as cavities. However, the frequency of those visits is dependent on a variety of factors. For instance, while an adult may only visit a dentist office once per year, a child requires more dental attention because their mouths are still developing. As the jaw grows and shifts, problems can arise, which will likely require immediate visits to a dentist's office. Whether these visits fit into the routine scheduling of appointments is entirely reliant on the specific child's needs. Therefore, how does a parent know the frequency to take a child to the dentist?
Frequency of visits
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, parents should take children for dental checkups every six months. The frequency of visits is mainly related to preventative care. Children can be at more risk for developing dental issues because of the ever-changing environment in the mouth. From the changing bone structure, shape and evolution, it is vital that children visit a dentist biannually to stay on top of any potential health risks or problems.
Benefits from biannual trips to the dentist
Beyond the benefits of a child seeing a pediatric dentist, who is trained specifically in the care and treatment of children, biannual checkups and exams provide significant benefits to the patient, from preventative care to emotional balance. In fact, practitioners of pediatric dentistry provide support in the development of oral structures, detection of dental problems, and the stability and comfort of the overall dental experience for children.
A child should experience a first dental exam either when the first baby tooth arrives or by the first birthday. If a parent continues to take their child to a pediatric specialist, then the child can benefit from continuity of care. One doctor over several years and several exams will have a better grasp of a patient's teeth and oral hygiene than a combination of dentists. Also, routine biannual visits can help a dentist outline a treatment and development plan to ensure a healthy smile.
Likely the most significant reason for biannual exams is for early detection. Children can present with a number of dental issues that are not as much of a concern for adults. Early treatment of these issues is of the utmost importance in maintaining oral health.
Last, dental visits can be stressful for young children, which means that a child will need to learn that a dentist’s office is nothing to fear. Routine and frequent visits to an office can allow a child to get acclimated to the process, meaning that the child will learn that a dentist is a friend and advocate.
A child should see a pediatric dentist at least twice per year, spaced out about every six months. However, that number may increase depending on any issues that may develop. However, biannual checkups will likely suffice for most children.
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