What can your child expect?

When you and your child arrive at our office, you’ll meet the dentist and the dental team.

During your child’s exam, the dentist will check for decay and alignment. (Depending on the age of your child, the dentist may ask you to sit in the dental chair and hold your child.) The dentist will look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and overall health of your child’s mouth. The dentist or hygienist may also clean the teeth and assess the need for a fluoride and sealant application. The dentist will assess developmental issues and answer any questions you may have.

We like to make sure children are equipped to care for their own teeth at home, so your child will receive a free toothbrush and learn the basics of teeth brushing during their visit. And children with no cavities are presented with a special certificate, along with a kid-friendly treat.

A dental home made just for kids!

Dedicated Western Dental Kids offices are kid-friendly, with brightly painted rooms, colorful wall art, games, toy giveaways, and dental education made fun by a dental team trained to give kids exceptional care.


 

What to expect, tooth-wise, as your child grows

Infants

Once that first tooth comes in, it’s time to see the dentist. It won’t take too long. You’ll hold your little one in your lap while the dentist checks their tooth (or teeth) and their general dental health. 

Timing tip: Scheduling your visit after nap time and a snack will make for a much happier visit.

Toddler years

Your child should see the dentist at least every six months after the first tooth comes in. These years are all about making the dentist a fun, safe place to visit so caring for teeth becomes second nature to your child.

Your dentist will add things to your child’s routine as they grow, like toothbrushing (twice a day!) with a non-fluoride toothpaste and flossing — with help from mom and dad.

Diet is very important at this stage. Gummy treats, even gummy vitamins and fruit chews plus starchy snacks like pretzels and potato chips stick to baby teeth and cause cavities—even in toddlers. So snack on fresh fruits and veggies and be sure to brush those choppers!

Make tooth time happy time: These are fun years to explore and play dentist. Help your child do a check up on a stuffed animal — or maybe dad. At this stage, we want taking care of teeth to be a fun part of every day.

Tooth decay has become the #1 childhood disease in the U.S.

Sugary drinks, gummy candies, even bottled water (it doesn't always have fluoride like tap water) are all probable causes. Cutting down on sweets, brushing, flossing and seeing the dentist, are the best way to prevent tooth decay.

Your dentist may treat your child’s teeth with a fluoride varnish to strengthen their enamel. Stronger enamel means those little choppers can resist the damage caused by the bacteria that feast on the sugars in our mouths.

Preschool

Your child should have a beautiful, full smile of baby teeth by now, and we want to keep them that way. Your dentist will check your child’s teeth and add new tasks for them that match their growing motor skills like flossing on their own once a day.

Fixing a cavity

Some children develop a cavity in a baby tooth. Your dentist will treat it just like a grown-up tooth, including drilling out the decay and restoring the tooth with a filling. That can be very scary for kids and parents. Remember, kids look to their parents for how to respond to things, so talk to child honestly and stay upbeat.

Talk to your dentist before the procedure so you and child are prepared. Your dentist may give your child laughing gas (nitrous oxide). It is ADA approved and is the safest method of sedation for a child. Laughing gas relaxes your child during the procedure.

They’re baby teeth. They just going to fall out anyway, right?

No! Healthy baby teeth help adult teeth grow straight and strong. Unhealthy baby teeth mean those new teeth are growing into an unhealthy environment. Having to extract a baby tooth increases the chances that adult teeth will come in crooked or impacted. So keep those baby teeth happy and healthy.

Elementary

Pretty soon one of those baby teeth is going to get wiggly and a giant, too-big-for-that-little mouth, grown-up tooth is going to take it’s place. As the new teeth come in, your dentist will be paying close attention to their alignment. A good bite is important for chewing, eating and speech. If your child’s teeth are showing signs of coming in crooked, your dentist may refer you to an orthodontist for a complete evaluation.

Time to see the orthodontist

Orthodontic problems can interfere with a child's speech, ability to chew and even the shape of their face as they grow. Correcting problems early can mean a lifetime of better health. That's why every child should have their jaw, bite and incoming grown-up teeth checked by an Orthodontist.

Ortho screenings are always free for kids — and grown-ups — at Western Dental. Some kids may need braces early, at seven or eight years old, to correct problems before additional teeth come in. Others may get them in their tweens or teens.

To learn more visit Braces and Orthodontics

Middle School

By middle school, all of your child’s adult teeth should be in, except for their wisdom teeth which don’t usually arrive until later. Cleanings will target plaque and tartar, and your dentist may apply sealants to their molars to prevent decay. Your child is also probably getting more and more independent, and you’re probably not going to be helping them brush their teeth like you did when they were five.

Make sure they keep up the good habits you helped them create. Brushing twice a day, flossing and eating fresh fruits and veggies are as important now as they ever were.

Wisdom teeth

Most kids develop wisdom teeth, a third set of molars way at the back of their mouths, by the time they are 14. At first, only an X-Ray will be able to see them. As your child matures, they will begin to break through. It's like teething all over again, except there may not be room for them. Or, they may grow in under other teeth. That's what we call an impacted wisdom tooth, and they can be very painful. If your child develops them, your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon, who will extract those wisdom teeth.

High School

Where did the time go? Your child is practically all grown up. But, they’re not too grown up for the dentist. Plus, teenage teeth can face a whole new set of hazards. Make sure they wear bite guards in sports that have any chance of contact, especially if they have braces. And be ready for teen experiments like pierced lips, cheeks and tongues. Having metal in your mouth can chip teeth and permanently damage gums.

What if my child is afraid of the dentist?

It’s ok. Lots of adults are, too. Talk to us about your child’s fears before your visit. Our pediatric dentists have lots of ways to help kids enjoy their check-ups from exploring the office together to playing a game. Helping kids learn to love the dentist is one of our favorite things to do.

Read more about dental fears

Choose a dentist your kid will love visiting

We have more than two dozen kids-only practices in California that make a trip to the dentist a lot more fun. Plus, every Western Dental office has pediatric dentists and hygienists who are experts in caring for every child’s teeth, from age 0 to 18.

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