The 3 Goals of Children’s Checkups
The American Dental Association recommends that children visit their family dentist for routine checkups every 6 months. At Lathrop Dental Center, we begin seeing our youngest patients just after their 2nd birthdays. While most parents certainly want their children to have healthy teeth and gums, these initial checkups (often called “happy visits”) might seem a little uneventful. However, Dr. Colin Lathrop and his team firmly believe that children of all ages benefit from regular checkups in three primary ways:
- Prevention and early detection of dental disease. Little smiles are susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay. At your child’s routine dental checkup, we can identify the earliest signs of these oral health problems and provide the most conservative treatment possible. Dr. Lathrop will examine your little ones mouth using a 3D x-ray unit. He can identify the earliest warning signs of dental issues and monitor the growth and development of your little one’s smile. In addition, keeping an eye on the developing jaw and primary teeth can help us recognize when orthodontics might be needed.
- Establish smile-friendly habits at home. During your child’s checkup, we can help your little one “brush up” on his or her at-home dental hygiene habits. We can also make suggestions regarding which dental care products might best fit your child’s needs and we can even make suggestions regarding snack and meal choices that promote healthier teeth and gums.
- Make dental care a lifelong practice. Children who regularly visit a kind, caring family dentist in their younger years are more likely to continue seeking professional healthcare as they grow into adulthood. At Lathrop Dental Center, we look forward to helping younger patients grow into healthy adults.
Treatment Options for Younger Patients
Should we identify any problems with your child’s teeth or if we establish that they are at risk for developing oral health problems in the future, we can provide a number of services aimed specifically toward young smiles. These include:
- Interceptive orthodontics. At around age 7, your child’s molars erupt. At this point, Dr. Lathrop can determine whether your child will experience issues such as a cross-bite or overcrowding. By identifying these problems at their very earliest stage, we can use interceptive orthodontics to guide the development of the teeth and jaw and minimize the need for further orthodontic treatment in your child’s tween and teen years.
- Dental sealants. The biting surfaces of the back teeth are highly susceptible to decay in children. Bits of food and sugar become trapped in the pits and grooves of the molars and, unfortunately, most children don’t brush their teeth with enough diligence to remove those trapped particles. Dental sealants are a thin layer of plastic painted onto the biting surfaces of the molars to fill in the grooves and pits and protect young teeth from tooth decay.
- Fluoride treatments. Fluoride treatments are so effective at hindering tooth decay that most municipal water supplies in the U.S. add fluoride to their drinking water. A fluoride treatment at Lathrop Dental Center might utilize a paste applied directly to the teeth or a chewable supplement, depending on your child’s needs. Fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel and can even remineralize areas where acids have leached out vital minerals.