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Oral health risk assessment

Your child's baby teeth do eventually fall out but until they do, baby teeth play an important role in helping your child eat properly, talk, smile, and feel good about themselves. Children with cavities may have difficulty eating, smiling, and have problems paying attention and learning at school.

Who is at risk

  • Children with mothers or primary caregivers who have had active decay are at greater risk to develop caries and children with mothers or primary caregivers who do not have a regular source of dental care.
  • Eating a poor diet.

Symptoms

  • Toothache
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bleeding or sore gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Bad breath
  • Jaw pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Oral piercing infection
  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Stained or discolored teeth

What you can do

  • Find a dentist by age 1.
  • Clean your infant’s mouth after feedings with a wet soft washcloth. Once teeth erupt, brush his or her teeth twice a day. For children under the age of 3 (until 3rd birthday), start brushing with a smear (grain of rice amount) of fluoridated toothpaste twice per day. Children 3 years of age and older should use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste twice a day.

Preventive service at no cost

Your child’s pediatrician will perform an oral health screening of the lips, tongue, teeth, gums, inside of the cheeks, and roof of the mouth to identify oral disease, especially tooth decay, or other oral conditions (for example, delayed tooth eruption or premature tooth loss, abscesses, or trauma) during normal well child visits.

Why screening is important

If you don't take care of your teeth and gums, dental decay may become irreversible. It can also lead to other problems, including:

  • Oral and facial pain.
  • Problems with the heart and other major organs. Mouth infections can affect major organs.
  • Digestion problems.

What the screening is

An oral health screening takes only 2 or 3 minutes to complete. Screenings are not examinations and do not involve making diagnoses that lead to treatment plans.

Treatment

If issues are identified, schedule an appointment with your child’s dentist. He or she will determine the appropriate treatment.

Resources