Regular dental exams for children are a critical part of preventive health care.

During a dental exam, the dentist or hygienist will clean your child's teeth and evaluate your child's risk of tooth decay. The exam might include applying a sealant or fluoride to reduce the risk of decay. A dental exam for children might also include dental X-rays or other diagnostic procedures.

The dentist or hygienist will likely discuss your child's diet and oral hygiene habits and demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques. Other topics might include preventing oral injuries or, for adolescents, the health risks associated with tobacco, substance abuse and oral piercings.

How to help children brush their teeth properly

• Guide your child's hand so they can feel the correct movement.
• Use a mirror to help your child see exactly where the brush is cleaning their teeth.
• Make tooth brushing as fun as possible by using an egg timer to time it for about two minutes.
• Don't let children run around with a toothbrush in their mouth, as they may have an accident and hurt themselves

How Cavities Develop

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NICDR), the mouth is full of hundreds of bacteria, many of which are beneficial to the oral ecosystem. However, certain harmful oral bacteria actually feed on the sugars you eat to create acids that destroy the tooth enamel, which is the shiny, protective outer layer of the tooth. Cavities are a bacterial infection created by acids, that cause your teeth to experience a hole in them. Without treatment, cavities can progress past the enamel and into the deeper layers of the tooth, causing pain and possible tooth loss.

Top Ten Tips For Children

1. Lead by example. Show your kids that practicing good oral health is important and can be fun by practicing good oral health yourself.

2. Choose a dentist that you and your family will like and trust. It will make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.

3. Take them to the dentist regularly – usually every six months or as directed by your dentist – for routine cleanings and checkups. This is not only good for the mouth; it can also help your child build a comfort level with the dentist.

4. Remind them to brush. Always ask your children if they brushed their teeth before they leave for school and when they are getting ready for bed.

5. Encourage them to brush at school. A travel toothbrush can be easily packed in your child’s backpack so that he or she can brush after snacks and lunch while at school.

6. Teach the importance of flossing. Flossing is just as important as brushing and may also help prevent gum disease. Gum disease may be associated with health complications later in life.

7. Make sure your child eats breakfast every day. There’s evidence that young people who eat a high protein breakfast have noticeable reductions in cravings for sweets later in the day.*

8. If they’re going to drink soda, have them use a straw. Doing so reduces their teeth’s exposure to sugar.

9. Reduce sugar in their diets. Replace sugary snacks and drinks with healthy alternatives, such as fruit, cheese and crackers and water.

10. Reward healthy habits. Leave little treats from the “tooth fairy,” every now and then, to reward your child for practicing good oral health.