When was the last time your child saw the dentist for a professional teeth cleaning? If you can’t remember, then it might be time to schedule an appointment for a cleaning and checkup. Brushing, flossing, and avoiding cavity-inducing foods at home help keep your child’s dental hygiene in good shape, but professional, deep cleanings twice a year are essential for long-term dental and overall health.
What’s Included in a Pediatric Professional Teeth Cleaning
A routine dental cleaning should take place every six months for kids beginning from age two. During this appointment, you can expect your pediatric dentist to:
- Review your child’s medical and oral health history (be ready to talk about your child’s health if anything has changed since the last visit!)
- Scrape plaque or buildup off of teeth
- Clean every tooth using a specialized dental tool
- Floss and polish each tooth
- Administer a fluoride treatment
- Examine your child’s teeth, gums, and jaw
- Identify the start of any new cavities
- Provide personalized guidance about at-home dental care until your next visit
X-rays may also be part of a professional dental cleaning, but not at every single appointment. X-rays allow us to look for cavities or other issues with your child’s teeth. At Ashburn Children’s Dentistry, we use digital X-rays that are significantly less harmful on teeth than traditional X-rays.
How long does a child’s dental cleaning take?
A professional dental cleaning appointment for a child can take between 30 minutes and one hour. The duration depends on what the dentist finds when they examine your child’s teeth and gums and if there is a lot of plaque to scrape off of their teeth.
In addition to the cleaning and exam, we also take the time to discuss any concerns you might have about your kid’s teeth or bring up anything noteworthy such as grinding, mouth breathing, facial growth and development and its effect on oxygen supply for optimal breathing and sleep for a growing child. If we discover a new cavity, we’ll make another appointment to get it filled.
Why Does My Child Need a Professional Teeth Cleaning Every Six Months?
Nearly every dentist will tell you that a six month checkup is a must for children and adults. Why is that? Is it really necessary to go twice a year, or can you get away with seeing a dentist less often?
A lot can happen in six months, especially for growing children. If a cavity is left untreated for too long it can:
- Cause pain and infections
- Lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning
- Cause abscess under the gums, which can spread to other parts of the body
If you don’t visit a dentist routinely, you won’t know if your child has a cavity, and it could cause severe health problems. Many parents avoid the dentist because their children grow fearful and may throw tantrums or misbehave when they are told it’s time for an appointment. We know this is stressful, but a severe infection can be even worse.
You can also read our guide to helping your child look forward to going to the dentist for suggestions on reducing their anxiety.
Why Regular Teeth Cleanings Are Important
Bringing your child to see a pediatric dentist twice a year has numerous health benefits such as:
- Guided growth of jaws and facial bones for optimal breathing, sleep and esthetics and overall health
- Preventing tooth loss and gum disease
- Keeping the smile bright and white, which helps boost kids’ confidence
- Helping prevent tooth decay
- Fighting infections in the gumline, which can happen at any age
Getting off to a bad start in life with dental health can have tremendous impacts on your child as they get older. Bad dental hygiene habits can be hard to break if they start at an early age, not to mention that developmental risks come with not caring for teeth.
Regular teeth cleanings by a pediatric dentist provide a twice-yearly thorough cleaning, professional examination, and personalized advice for your child’s dental growth and development.
Why You Should Start Professional Teeth Cleanings Young
Dental health is crucial for young children, as there are many risks in the first 10 years of their life that can affect their development and lead to more general health problems.
You should start taking your child to a pediatric dentist within 12 months of getting their first baby tooth. At Ashburn, we use gentle examination and cleaning techniques for young children so parents have nothing to worry about.
Some of the reasons you should start dental cleanings at a young age include:
- Kids are at a high risk for cavities in the first decade of their lives and cleanings remove plaque, identify cavities, and help prevent new ones from forming.
- Regular cleanings help cut down on the number of appointments needed for cavity fillings, which can induce anxiety in young children.
- Healthy baby teeth are just as important as healthy adult teeth and parents should invest just as much care and attention in them. Baby teeth allow for proper chewing, speech development, space in the jaw for adult teeth, and healthy gums.
- Regular visits to a caring, child-centric dentist can help scared kids understand that there’s nothing to be afraid of at the dentist’s office. Going infrequently to see the dentist can actually make these fears worse.
What Is the Cost of a Pediatric Dental Cleaning?
At Ashburn Children’s Dentistry, we’re focused on providing the highest-quality care based on your child’s individual needs.You, not the insurance company, gets to choose what’s best for your child’s health. For this reason, we’re not an insurance-driven practice and we are out-of-network specialists.
We have several options available when it comes to dental insurance and financing, including using FSA or HSA benefits, or a CareCredit plan. We want the very best for your child’s dental health and will work with you to maximize the benefits you have so your child gets the care and attention they need.
You can read more about the cost of dental cleanings on our dental insurance and financing page.
Does My Child Have to Follow Special Instructions In Between Dental Cleanings?
If your child needs to follow any special instructions for their dental hygiene until their next appointment, we’ll be sure to let both of you know. We encourage parents to help kids keep up good habits at home when it comes to brushing and flossing and to try to avoid foods that cause cavities. Your child should brush twice each day, rinse after eating, and floss once per day in between dental appointments.
Ashburn Children’s Dentistry for Professional Teeth Cleaning
We provide thorough teeth cleanings and examinations and welcome children and adolescents of all ages at our dental practice. With specialized experience in infant dental care as well, you can be confident that your baby is in good hands. Call our office today at (703) 723-8440 to make an appointment.