Preventive dentistry is the foundation for a healthy smile. With regular cleanings and exams, small dental issues can be caught before they turn into large and costly problems. Preventive dental care from our Columbia office along with a diligent at-home brushing and flossing routine can help prevent dental issues all together. Severe cavities in baby teeth can damage adult teeth in the long run. Preventive care is particularly important for children because once good oral health habits are established, they’re more likely to continue those habits throughout adulthood and have healthier smiles as a result.
Children should start seeing the dentist as early as 1 year old.
To begin, we will perform a thorough oral exam and begin cleaning their teeth. Their teeth will be cleaned to remove plaque and tartar, then brushed with a high-powered brush, and flossed to remove any remaining food particles and debris.
X-rays are not required at every dental appointment and are usually taken every year to ensure your child’s oral development is on track. X-rays may be required based on your child's caries risk and will only be taken if necessary. Dr. Su Kim will also take panoramic x-rays to monitor growth and development and to rule out any pathology in the jaw. If your child’s dentist determines that x-rays are needed, our team will take them with your permission. Our x-rays are digital which omit minimal radiation.
Your child's dentist will provide special dental tools to check for cavities, gum disease, and other signs of potential oral health issues. She will also view your child’s x-rays and health history to aid in diagnosis. Then, Dr. Kim will discuss with you any problems or potential issues they may have found during the examination. She will also check the teeth, but also do head and neck exam as a part of comprehensive exam.
If your child has dental issues that need to be addressed, such as cavities, gum disease, or an infected tooth, their Columbia dentist will develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to each child's need. All the treatment options are given including risks and benefits so that parents can make an informed decision. Once both you and your child understand the issues and how we can fix them, we can schedule your child’s follow up appointment for treatment.
Our team can help you schedule your child’s next cleaning and exam, and also any appointments for additional treatment. It’s important that your child gets the care they need from a dental team they know and trust, so stay on top of their appointments and help us keep their smile strong and healthy.
Routine dental cleanings and oral exams are the most important part of preventive care. With regular cleanings, you can prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar on your child’s teeth and reduce their risk of gum disease and cavities. With routine oral exams from your child’s dentist, you can get insights on their oral health, how to care for their teeth properly, and information about preventive treatments like dental sealants and fluoride, which can help protect their teeth from bacteria and decay. Head and neck exams, growth and development milestones, oral hygiene instructions, and a variety of other features are included in your child's cleaning and exam.
Digital x-rays are the best choice for kids, since they are very fast, provide high-resolution images, and expose children to minimal radiation. X-rays will typically be recommended only if your child’s dentist thinks that your kid needs them, typically every few years, or more frequently if your child is at high risk for oral disease like tooth decay or gum disease.
Fluoride treatments consist of a fluoride gel or paste that is “painted” onto your child’s teeth after a teeth cleaning. The fluoride helps remineralize and strengthen your child’s teeth, and can even reverse “soft spots” which are the first stage of tooth decay.
Dental sealants use a transparent liquid resin, which is applied directly to the teeth and is hardened using a UV light. This creates an impenetrable seal on your child’s tooth, which stops bacteria, acid, and food particles from causing cavities. This treatment is usually recommended specifically for the cavity-prone rear teeth.
Oral cancer screenings are an essential part of preventive care, even for children. Screenings are a part of your child’s oral exams and can be performed quickly, safely, and usually without your child noticing.
Dr. Kim will examine your child’s mouth, gums, and oral tissues, and look for discolored patches, lumps, growths, and other such abnormalities. In the rare case that an issue is found, a biopsy may be taken and sent to a specialist for further analysis, or the dentist will refer you to a specialist directly.
Dental visits every 6 months at our Columbia office allow your child’s dentist to become familiar with their oral health, so they can address any issues before they become larger problems.
Kids of all ages can grind their teeth. Custom night guards are created to fit over your child’s teeth perfectly, and prevent direct tooth-to-tooth contact at night while they sleep. This can help reduce teeth grinding, and also prevents premature tooth wear and tear caused by grinding.
If your child plays any contact sports, custom-fitted mouthguards help protect their teeth from damage. We offer comfortable mouthguards that cushion and protect the teeth and gums, and help your child avoid oral injuries like cracked, broken, loose, or avulsed (knocked-out) teeth.
Kids laugh around 400 times per day.
You should brush your child’s teeth twice a day for two minutes until they’re 7-8 years old, or are able to tie their shoes on their own. After this, we recommend making brushing a family activity. You can demonstrate proper technique to your children, and make sure they’re brushing regularly.
Did you know that you have to floss baby teeth? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends flossing in the areas where 2 teeth touch regardless of age.
You will need to floss your child’s teeth for them until they’re about 10, since it’s a lot harder to learn proper flossing technique than it is to learn proper brushing technique.
Flossing your child’s teeth will not be dissimilar to flossing your own. Depending on their age, you may need to find a toy or distraction to keep them entertained while you floss their teeth. Floss holders may be helpful for toddlers so they don’t bite your fingers. Just make sure you’re flossing between every two teeth that make contact and behind their molar.
We recommend flossing your child’s teeth once per day, and having them rinse with water or mouthwash after flossing to remove any food particles that were dislodged during the process.
Oral health is integral to general health. Oral conditions can interfere with eating and adequate nutritional intake, speaking, self-esteem, and daily activities. Healthy baby teeth are essential for your child to eat and chew properly, and damaged or decayed baby teeth can cause them a lot of pain and discomfort. Though they will fall out naturally as your child ages, your child’s baby teeth should remain in place until they fall out on their own. If they lose one or more teeth prematurely, this can affect their future oral development. This is because baby teeth help form the “paths” that the adult teeth follow when they emerge.
Yes. Almost every dental insurance plan covers preventive care, like six-month cleanings and exams, for dependents. Fluoride treatments and dental sealants may also be covered, in some cases. However, coverage for each insurer and dental plan varies, so our Columbia team recommends consulting directly with your insurer to learn about coverage limits for pediatric preventive care, covered treatments, and other such information.
Around 85% of children see the dentist regularly.