Q&A With Dr Emma
Hi Dr Emma. At what age should a child start having regular scale and cleans? Marie from North Perth, WA.
There's no set age that every child needs to start having regular professional cleaning. I strongly believe in tailoring dental maintenance schedules to the individual. I have adult patients with excellent oral hygiene who only need a scale and clean once every 18 months. I have other patients who are prone to calculus (tartar) build-up and are not so handy with a toothbrush, so they come for cleaning every 3 months.
It's important that a child see a dentist regularly from around one year old, so they can get used to having their teeth checked and any problems can be detected early. If the dentist can see there is plaque or calculus build-up, then a scale and clean is a good idea. I've seen a two year old patient who had soft plaque which needed to be removed, and who happily sat still for me to polish her teeth. I've also seen people who make it to their early twenties without having any calculus form on their teeth yet. That's a huge range!
So to answer your question, a child should start having regular scale and cleans from the time their dentist observes calculus, or excessive plaque on their teeth. How often the child needs maintenance cleaning visits will depend on his/her oral hygiene habits, diet habits, and how prone that child is to calculus easily forming. No two people are exactly the same, and our littlest people deserve to be treated as individuals.