According to the CDC, it’s recommended that your child brushes their teeth twice a day and that they visit the dentist at least once every six months. The reason for that six-month check-up isn’t just for a cleaning. While it’s true that only a pediatric dentist can remove tartar from your child’s teeth, your pediatric dentist is doing far more during your child’s dental exam than making sure your child’s teeth are shiny and clean.
Here are five things your child’s pediatric dentists (and your own dentist!) are looking for during regular check-ups to keep your family in good health.
1. Oral cancer
You might be familiar with the oral cancer screening at your own appointment, but your child’s pediatric dentist is also screening your child for oral cancer at their own check-up, too. Dentists will check the mouth tissue and the tongue’s surface for any visible symptoms or signs of oral cancer. They’ll also typically feel along your neck for any abnormalities that could be signs of oral cancer, too. Oral cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers that are diagnosed every year. Although it often occurs in people aged 40 and older, it’s important to screen for oral cancer to prevent it and catch it early.
2. Salivary glands
Also known as spit glands, your salivary glands play a surprisingly important part in your child’s oral health and your own oral health. Pediatric dentists will inspect your child’s salivary glands during their check-up to make sure they’re producing the right amount of saliva.
Your saliva is essential for helping to wash away bad bacteria from your teeth. Saliva also helps to wash away sugars, carbohydrates, and other food remnants from your teeth that could potentially feed these bad bacteria and lead to cavities. If your child doesn’t produce an adequate amount of saliva, their pediatric dentist may recommend they chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candies to prevent dry mouth and to encourage the healthy production of saliva.
3. The temporomandibular joint
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located on both sides of your jaw. It’s what connects your jaw bone to the rest of your skull, and it’s essential for proper chewing. Your child’s pediatric dentist will check their TMJ to ensure the joint is working correctly. Certain TMJ disorders can cause pain because of friction between the bones. Common signs of TMJ disorders include:
- Facial pain
- Pain while chewing
- Difficulty chewing
- Grinding or clicking sounds when chewing
- Pain around or in the ear
- Lock jaw
Many people only hear about their tonsils when they need to get removed. But your tonsils actually play an important part in your body’s immune system. Should germs or bacteria make their way past the nose or mouth, the tonsils can help to stop germs from making their way to the rest of the body because of their prime location at the throat and palate. What’s more, tonsils also contain a good number of white blood cells to help stop germs and bacteria in their tracks. Unfortunately, sometimes the tonsils can become infected or inflamed themselves. Your child’s dentist will examine your child’s tonsils during their check-up to make sure there aren’t any health concerns you need to be worried about.
Your child’s pediatric dentist will examine their gums during their check-up to check for any signs of swelling, bleeding, or gum pockets. These are all signs of unhealthy gums or gum disease, which is essential to mitigate as soon as possible. Gum disease can be prevented by brushing your teeth regularly, flossing to remove plaque from the sides of the teeth your toothbrush can’t reach, and swishing with child-safe mouthwash.
Looking for a family dentistry office in your area?
As you can tell from the points above, your child’s pediatric dentist doesn’t just clean their teeth every six months. They’re also checking for other signs of conditions or problems that could potentially put your child’s oral health and physical health at risk. The professional pediatric dentists at Smilez Pediatric Dental Group can help keep your child’s teeth and gums happy and healthy for the longterm. To learn more about our family dental services or to schedule an appointment with us, contact Smilez Pediatric Dental Group today.