Dental exam for children

Regular dental exams are an important part of preventive health care.

During a dental exam for children, the dentist or hygienist will clean your child's teeth and evaluate your child's risk of tooth decay. A dental exam for children might include application of various protective measures — such as sealants or fluoride treatments — to reduce the risk of decay. A dental exam for children might also include dental X-rays (radiographs) or other diagnostic procedures.

During a dental exam for children, the dentist or hygienist will likely discuss your child's diet and oral hygiene habits and demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques. Other topics for discussion during a dental exam for children might include preventing oral injuries or, for adolescents, the health risks associated with tobacco, substance abuse and oral piercings.


Why it's done How you prepare What you can expect Results

Regular dental exams help protect your child's oral health. Dental exams give your child's dentist a chance to provide tips on caring for your child's teeth, as well as detect any problems early — when they're most treatable.

When to have a dental exam

Various factors might determine how frequently your child needs to have a dental exam, including his or her age, health and risk of tooth decay. Consider these general guidelines:

  • Ages 6 months to 1 year. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend scheduling a child's first dental exam after the first tooth erupts and no later than his or her first birthday. Also expect your baby's teeth and gums to be examined at well-baby checkups.
  • Toddlers, school-age children and adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends scheduling regular dental checkups, with the most common interval being every six months. However, the dentist might recommend fewer or more frequent visits depending on your child's risk factors for oral health problems.
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