Getting our kids started off on the right track when it comes to good oral health habits is so important. Of course, we need to teach them how to brush and floss properly each and every day, but don’t forget that your kids need to have their teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis as well. In fact, professional cleanings are just as important for our kids as they are for adults. And both children and grown-ups should have their teeth cleaned at least twice a year. In fact, it’s especially important for kids since they probably don’t brush as thoroughly as adults, and that can result in plaque build-up and cavities.

Whether you’re an adult or a child, having your teeth cleaned will typically involve a dental hygienist using a sonic dental instrument to remove built-up plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth, along with a special type of gritty toothpaste to polish your pearly whites. But there are some differences between professional cleanings for adults and those for kids. What follows are some of those differences:

  • Education — While dentists are typically on the lookout for conditions like gum disease or receding gums in their older clients, kids have a different set of issues. Pediatric dentists look for signs that the child is brushing and flossing properly and, if not, the dentist takes the time to teach the child how to best take care of their teeth and gums.
  • Flossing (or not) – Although it’s important to teach your children how to brush and floss correctly, flossing may not be necessary until your child is old enough to need it. Very young children may not need to floss because they have so much space between their baby teeth – some of which may have already erupted, and some of which may have not. That holds true for their visits to the dentist as well. Children may not need to have their teeth flossed during a professional cleaning. And, depending on their age and the effectiveness of their brushing, they may or may not need to have buildup removed with a sonic instrument.
  • Eruption of baby teeth – Unlike dentists who are working with adult patients, a pediatric dentist will typically check to see whether or not a child’s teeth are coming in properly. For teeth that haven’t yet erupted through the gum surface, an X-ray may be needed to make sure they are correctly positioned.

Before taking your child in for a dental appointment, make sure that your dentist is certified in pediatric dentistry, which requires several years of education in addition to a regular dental degree. If your child has anxiety about visiting the dentist, talk to the dental office ahead of time. Any good pediatric dental practice will be equipped to make your child feel as comfortable as possible throughout the visit.