Teeth Cleaning, X-Rays & Exams

Dr. Kelly Jobe | Pediatric Dentist | St. Louis, MO

Teeth Cleaning, X-Rays & Exams

Dental cleanings aren’t just for adults – they are a critical part of keeping your child’s teeth healthy for many years to come!
Not many people know that your child has the highest risk of cavities in the first half of their life. In fact, cavities in kids are more common than asthma. To prevent problems and create a foundation of good oral health, it’s important to get regular teeth cleanings as early as possible.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the first dental visit by their first birthday or within six months of their first tooth, whichever occurs first. Starting earlier increases your child’s comfort and confidence when visiting the dentist.

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How do pediatric dentists clean teeth?

Really, a teeth cleaning for kids is almost exactly like an adult cleaning (except the patient is usually a bit smaller!). We tailor the experience to what is comfortable for each child.

Children are very visual, so our pediatric dentists and highly trained staff will explain and demonstrate the procedure to your child before we begin. This helps your child feel a little less anxious because they know what to expect. 

Early childhood exams may include a cleaning, but the dentist will also check for cavities and risks of tooth decay. X-rays are often included, which check for decay, signs of trauma and proper development of teeth. Sealants or fluoride treatments might be necessary to prevent future decay. 

We will also discuss oral care at home, and any habits that could be improved – including brushing, flossing and a healthy diet. They set a foundation for success for both parents and kids! 

Other habits like pacifier use and thumb sucking can impact dental health in young children, as well as jaw clenching and nail biting in later childhood. We’ll give you the knowledge and tools you need to manage any potential issues.

When should my child get their first cleaning?

Dental problems are most treatable when they’re caught early. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends scheduling a child’s first dental exam and cleaning after the first tooth erupts, but no later than their first birthday.

Children can understandably have a lot of anxiety about going to the dentist. Over time with regular cleanings, your child will get more and more comfortable with the process. It’s our goal to care for your child as gently and compassionately as possible, and make their cleaning a fun, pleasant experience. The occasional post-exam prize doesn’t hurt either!

How often should my child get their teeth cleaned?

You already know that regular brushing at home is important for your child’s dental health, but brushing just isn’t enough by itself. Plaque is tooth-colored and sticky, so it can still build up without you knowing. Some cavities occur between teeth or in areas the naked eye can’t see. There are also all kinds of nooks and crannies that a toothbrush won’t get to.

For those reasons, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that your child get their teeth cleaned every 6 months. But we might recommend that your child gets a checkup more frequently or less, depending on your child’s dental health.

Not only are regular cleanings important for your child’s dental health, it’s also a great way to instill a habit of going to the dentist when they’re an adult. 

We also know that going to the dentist can cause a lot of anxiety for some kiddos. Regular cleanings with the same dentist and staff also help your child get comfortable more quickly with visits.

How to take care of my child’s teeth between cleanings?

Great question! As dentists, you make our jobs easier by caring for your child’s teeth at home.

Specific recommendations depend on how old they are, but in general we recommend:

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing
  • Feeding your kids a balanced diet
  • Limit sticky, chewy foods that can get in between teeth
  • Limit acidic fluids such as soda, sweet tea and certain energy drinks


You’ve probably seen a lot of commercials for fluoride toothpaste and other fluoride products. This is for good reason, because fluoride is super important for the health and strength of our teeth!

When your child comes in for an exam, we will evaluate whether they are getting enough fluoride. If they are not getting enough fluoride through your drinking water or other sources, we might perform a fluoride treatment, prescribe fluoride supplements, or point you to a dental-quality fluoride toothpaste.

When you combine at-home care, regular cleanings, and a balanced diet, rest assured that your child will have a healthy smile for many years to come.

Should I go to a pediatric dentist or regular dentist?

There are several advantages to opting for a pediatric dentist, over a regular dentist or even a family dentist. Pediatric dentists:

  • Provide a welcoming, child-friendly environment 
  • Have equipment specially designed for children 
  • Has 2-3 extra years of specialized training just in treating children
  • A staff highly trained in caring just for kids!

Questions for Dr. Jobe or the Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry team?

Dr. Kelly Jobe and the team at Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry are committed to providing the best pediatric dental care in the greater St. Louis, MO area! Please contact us with any questions regarding your kid’s dental health, we are here to help!

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Dr. Kelly Jobe & her staff are  passionate about providing the best pediatric dental care in St. Louis, MO!

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