What Goes into Your Child's Dental Cleaning and Ways to Brush and Floss at Home

Getting your child ready and excited for their next visit to the dentist doesn't have to involve a lot of stress for you or them. Explaining the steps of dental cleaning prepares them for the situation, reducing anxiety and helping kids of all ages feel ready to tackle the challenge. However, practice makes perfect! You'll need to follow up by teaching them great brushing and flossing skills. By reinforcing proper techniques, your little one will develop positive habits surrounding their oral health. Take a proactive approach to your child's dental health with these tips.

What to Expect When Visiting a Pediatric Dentist in Muskego

We’re so happy you are here! Each visit for a cleaning at our dental office starts with a warm welcome from the hygienist and dentist who will be taking care of your child. We'll explain the process to your child in terms they understand based on their age so they're less nervous about the cleaning tools. Once everyone is comfortable, we'll start working on checking and cleaning your child's smile. The entire appointment will be designed with your child in mind. 

X-Rays Go First If Needed

Babies or toddlers will receive complete X-rays the first time they visit the dentist. Your child won't need to repeat this step of the process every visit. Every year to  two years after the first visit, the dentist takes new X-rays to check how the teeth are developing in the gums. We show the images to both you and your child so you can see the results and understand the importance of seeing how the baby and adult teeth are progressing.

Examining the Teeth

After imaging is completed, we'll take a closer look and start examining the teeth. As pediatric dentists, we have plenty of techniques to make the exam a fun, engaging game rather than a struggle. We'll discuss teeth and why they're important as we count them and check for signs of damage like cavities or gum disease. If we suspect any issues or notice any signs of trouble, we'll discuss a treatment plan with you to figure out the right way to proceed.

Cleaning Time

When the examination ends, it's time for the cleaning. We are happy to make accommodations based on the needs of your child as we begin removing plaque and tartar. We invite your child to be a part of the process by introducing different instruments, taking breaks and answering questions as needed. Once the scaling is done, the dentist will floss between the teeth. It's a great time to discuss flossing and how to do it correctly if you or your child find it difficult to accomplish on a daily basis. Finally, we'll do some polishing to ensure each tooth is sparkly clean!

Extra Treatments

Depending on your child's teeth, we may recommend some additional treatments like fluoride applications or sealants. These additions are handled after cleaning and polishing and go relatively quickly. We'll discuss any findings from the exam and treatments that may be needed at a separate appointment. If everything looks good, we'll schedule the next cleaning and you and your child will be on your way again.

Encouraging Brushing at Home

Of course, even professional cleanings twice a year can't protect your child's teeth completely. Only daily brushing and flossing habits will keep cavities at bay and prevent the need for further treatment. For children under 6, making the brushing process as fun and playful as possible is often the key to getting it to become a daily practice. Older kids may need daily reminders or rewards that help reinforce the value of sticking to the habit. Many parents assume their children can handle brushing alone long before it's recommended. Pediatric dentists recommend brushing your child's teeth until they are 8 or even older to ensure they're getting all of the teeth. Some parents let children as young as 4 to 6 brush for themselves, but you'll need to check that they're getting the back teeth well enough. Make sure your child is flossing at least twice a day, even if you need to stay on top of them about it.

How to Floss with a Reluctant Child

Flossing is often harder to encourage than brushing because it can be difficult and physically uncomfortable even for adults. Using a colorful flossing tool that makes it easy to grip the floss and reach the back teeth is recommended. Disposable flossing picks can also work, but they're better for older children who aren't at risk of swallowing them. Flavored floss and wider ribbon styles are much more appealing to children than boring plain waxed thread. You should also discuss options like water picks that can reduce or replace the need for traditional flossing. They're often a good choice for children who have a strong gag reflex or sensory issues that interfere with normal flossing routines.

Make dental care a joy rather than a stressful situation by scheduling your child's next visit with us. Our pediatric dental team in Muskego will go the extra mile to make sure every patient is as comfortable as possible so they can create positive memories related to seeing the dentist. We hope to give your child the tools they need for a smile that lasts a lifetime.

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