While all dental exams are aimed at ensuring the health of your teeth, there are important differences between child and adult tooth examinations. Children under 13 have primary teeth that will eventually be replaced by permanent ones. Therefore, a child tooth exam is important in ensuring the healthy growth of their teeth over time.
In addition to catching issues at an early stage (such as cavities, tooth decay and broken teeth), child dental exams provide the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.
The differences between permanent and primary teeth
During their first few years, children develop a set of "baby teeth" to help them engage in proper diet and speech. The first teeth will begin to show at around 6 months of age. By the time your child is 3 years old, they should have developed a full set of 20 primary teeth.
Primary teeth differ from adult teeth in several ways. First, they have shorter crowns and thinner layers of enamel. They also tend to have narrower roots and a smooth surface near the bottom. Because primary teeth are more delicate than permanent ones, they're more susceptible to decay, cavities, and breakage.
Therefore, taking you child to the dentist regularly is important. With regular exams, you may catch dental issues early and prevent more significant problems.
What to expect during a child tooth exam
When you take your child for a tooth exam, the dentist will check for any issues that may be affecting your child's oral health. For example, the teeth will be checked for damage, cavities, and decay.
More importantly, a child dental exam is carried out to ensure that permanent teeth are growing in the right position. Children typically begin to shed their primary teeth at around age 5. Between the ages of 5-13, permanent teeth will slowly replace a child's primary teeth. Therefore, primary teeth form the guiding blueprint for permanent teeth to emerge.
During a dental exam, your dentist will check the child's primary teeth for any misalignment issues. If misaligned teeth are not corrected, your child may develop speech complications or difficulty eating certain foods. Dental exams ensure a healthy set of primary teeth, which in turn result in the healthy growth of their permanent replacements.
You can think of regular dental exams as an important step towards the long-term oral health of your child. You should be prepared to take your child for dental exams at least twice a year. In addition, closely monitor what your child eats and make sure they're practicing proper oral hygiene. Speak with your dentist for more information and tips.