Child-Friendly Dental Exams and X-Rays

What is a Pediatric Dental Exam?

A pediatric dental exam is a routine examination of teeth and molars in children around 12 months and up. These exams are important for children in a number of ways; First, they help to ensure that the teeth are healthy and in good shape. Second, they can help determine if there is any abnormalities on the teeth that could lead to problems down the road. Third, pediatric dental exams can also help identify tooth problems that might not be detectable during an adult dental exam. Finally, pediatric dental exams can also help to diagnose certain medical conditions such as but not limited to the following:


Cavities are small and often go unnoticed because they occur in children who are not yet apparent to the naked eye. When a child has a small, self-cleaned cavity in his or her teeth, it is difficult to see. However, if the cavity is large enough and goes inside the gum line, it can be very difficult to remove without risking damage to teeth and gums.


Periodontitis is a severe, often debilitating group of diseases that affect the teeth. It most commonly affects adults, but can also occur in children and young adults. The disease is caused by bacteria that live inside the tooth enamel. When these bacteria become infected, they cause inflammation and calculus.


Gingivitis is a problem that affects the teeth and gums. It can occur anywhere in the mouth, but is most common in kids under the age of 10. Gingivitis usually starts as a mild infection and then gets worse. The infection can cause pain in the cheeks, jaw, and tongue as well as lead to tooth loss.


Malocclusion is a condition that affects the teeth in children that can be caused by any type of injury to the teeth, including trauma from eating or playing. Malocclusion can also be instigated by problems with tooth alignment, which make the teeth point in different directions. The teeth will likely not fit together properly which can cause a lot of difficulty chewing and speaking.
A child’s first exam is usually recommended within 6 months of the first tooth coming, or by 12 months of age and every 6 months thereafter. This exam helps to diagnose and treat a variety of pediatric dental conditions such as cavities, toothaches, and other problems.

What to expect during the exam?

During your child’s exam, our pediatric dentists will inspect the teeth and gums, review any x-rays (if applicable) check for proper development, help identify any of the previously mentioned abnormalities, and determine if additional treatment is required. We will also assess your child’s oral hygiene and provide recommendations aimed at improving your child’s oral health for future visits!

What if my child needs X-Rays?

Depending on the results from the initial exam and your child’s unique condition, we often recommend taking x-rays. X-rays are an important and common tool in the early discovery of tooth decay, impacted teeth, and other sometimes hidden oral concerns. Our pediatric dentists most commonly use three types of x-rays to monitor and ensure the proper development of your child’s teeth which are perfectly safe and harmless to your child. These types of x-rays include:

Panoramic X-Rays

A panoramic x-ray is a type of radiograph that gives a big picture view of your child’s teeth, jaws and surrounding bones. Usually taken after eruption of their first permanent molars this type of x-ray can identify issues with development, missing / extra teeth, as well as any cysts, tumors or radiographic pathology.

Bitewing X-Rays

A Bitewing x-ray is a diagnostic tool used to view the teeth and potential cavities in children as soon as their back molars touch. It is a simple, outpatient procedure that can help improve your child’s oral health by easily pointing out potential problems well before they become painful or a major issue.

Anterior Occlusal X-Rays

An Anterior Occlusal pediatric dental x-ray is a type of radiograph that is used to view the front teeth in children. This can typically be taken after the tooth erupts or if trauma is involved. This type of x-ray can help diagnose developmental problems, check for any chips or fractures that may have occurred, or identify decay on your child’s front teeth.