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Why do children need dental check-ups?

Dante A. Gonzales, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
Tooth decay is one of the most common infectious diseases in kids and should be taken very seriously. The effects of tooth decay in kids can lead to many problems like difficulty eating, concentrating in school and their overall demeanor. More importantly, tooth decay could lead to a very painful toothache, or worse, an abscess that could infect the bone and possibly the blood stream. Tooth decay, even in baby teeth, is something that can be very serious if not treated by a dentist. It is recommended that kids see a dentist by age 1 and should be seen every 6 months. Regular dental exams will help the dentist identify any problems early before they become a much larger more difficult problem.
When scheduling health care appointments, don't overlook a dental checkup for your child. A dental exam should be a regular part of back-to-school preparations. Some states may require dental checkups for school-age children at certain grade levels. All children need to see their dentist no later than their first birthday and then at intervals recommended by their dentist.
 
Many parents and caregivers don't realize that tooth decay is an infectious disease for which there is no immunization. Tooth decay affects more than 25 percent of U.S. children 2 to 5 years old and 50 percent of U.S. children 12 to 15 years old, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A painful tooth or chronic dental problem can lead to difficulty in eating, speaking and concentrating. Children with chronic dental pain may not always voice their problem. They may appear anxious, depressed or tired, but teachers may not recognize their pain. Dental problems also cause many children to miss school.
 
Regular dental checkups and preventive dental care, which can include cleaning, fluoride treatments or sealants, uncover problems that can be treated in the early stages, when damage is minimal. For example, when tooth decay is treated early, your child may only need a small filling. Left untreated, the cavity could progress to needing a crown or baby root canal. Think of regular dental visits as providing your child with “smile insurance!”

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.