When our children see a different face at their hygiene appointments they will lack the accountability they can develop when they know they will see the same hygienist time and time again. They will then learn there is a routine to their visits:
1. Welcome and catch up time- The appointment shouldn't feel rushed the child needs to feel they are important. (because they are)
2. Discuss current home care practices- Does your child use a manual or power toothbrush, how often are they brushing, do they clean in between their teeth, does an adult help them.
3. Seat them back and examine the soft tissues of the head and neck, assess how their teeth are erupting. Advise parent of any concerns and make necessary referral to a specialist or general dentist.
4. Assess home care- can be done with a disclosing solution that will leave any plaque on the child's teeth a pink or purple colour or with the use of a specialized camera that will detect the plaque on your child's teeth and show it as yellow on the photos taken. (this is the method I use as can be used on children with red food dye allergies) Children do much better with visuals and this is preferred to trying to see a film on the tooth that is the same colour as the teeth.
5. Individualized home care instruction- If your child has left their hygiene visit and their new toothbrush is still in an unopened package this means they received no individual brushing instructions. This is an indicator that your child likely needs a longer appointment with the hygienist next time. With new technology being introduced all the time these tools are being added to your child's dental appointment but appointments are not increasing in time. This is the most important portion and if its being missed request your child's appointment time be increased.
6. Reassess again if your child is able to remove the plaque on their own, with use of camera or checking to see if disclosing solution is gone. If needed more time may need to be spent ensuring your child is able to effectively remove the plaque on their own.
7. Discuss how cavities start and good and bad snacks.
8. Cleaning portion of visit- this is the removal of the hard deposits that can't be removed by your child's toothbrush. Always ask that your child be seen by a dental hygienist.
9. Fluoride varnish- If your child has a fluoride treatment request it be a varnish as it has the most benefits. The rinse has very few benefits and I recommend avoiding this type of fluoride in office. (I do like home fluoride rinses though)
The child hygiene appointment is so much more than a cleaning, the education portion is the part that is going to teach the child to stay cavity free. Teaching children has always been a passion of mine I love their unique personalities, and taking the time to allow a shy child to feel comfortable with me or the fearful child to know I want to be their friend or the inquisitive child who likes to ask 100 questions.(As I list these I think each is my favorite, kids are so fun) As a dental hygienist I can not diagnose decay but I can advise you of what I see (example: a hole in a tooth, a brown spot that looks soft) and refer you to a dentist I think will meet your child's needs. It's a new concept seeing a hygienist outside the traditional office, it gives the hygienist the flexibility to set their own appointment times to meet your child's unique needs and a larger pool of dentists to recommend as a good match for you and your family.