Oral Health Exam: Why It’s Important to See the Doctor Early and Why California Requires It

The importance of an oral health exam to protect your oral and overall health can’t be understated. Your child should be seen by a pediatric dentist soon after their first birthday or when their first baby tooth emerges.

Why Does My Child Need to See a Dentist in Elementary School?

Getting Comfortable with Dental Appointments

If regular dental visits are started at a young age, your children are more likely to continue seeing a dentist when they are adults, laying the groundwork for good oral hygiene and healthy teeth and gums. The earlier your child begins visiting the dentist, the sooner they become comfortable with the pediatric dentist. Routine exams, x-rays, and treatment are more manageable when your child is familiar with the procedures and views their dentist as a friend.

Children who see their dentist while they have baby teeth have healthier teeth and gums as children, teens, and adults. Checkups may reveal cavities or tooth decay, which can be treated before they lead to more severe problems. Many elementary school children have trouble expressing tooth pain. Routine checkups ensure that cavities or other issues are not harming their health, mood, or ability to perform well at school and at home.


At your child’s dental appointment, we demonstrate proper brushing techniques and explain the importance of caring for their teeth. We check for and explain the importance of addressing potential risks to the teeth and gums, including thumb sucking, baby bottle tooth decay, gum disease, and other issues. We also answer any questions you may have about issues that affect your child’s oral health and monitor their permanent teeth as they

Preventive Care

Regular dental checkups and dental cleanings help protect your child’s teeth and gums. A dentist usually spots early cavities in baby teeth at checkups before your child has symptoms. Routine cleaning helps prevent gingivitis, a concern for young children who haven’t yet developed the manual dexterity to brush and floss their teeth properly. As your child grows, we may suggest other preventive measures such as fluoride treatments or dental sealants to protect the teeth better. Our goal is to protect your child’s teeth now so they can last a lifetime.

Keeping your child’s teeth healthy is crucial to their proper oral development. Healthy teeth allow them to chew food easily and speak clearly. The American Dental Association recommends that every child visit a pediatric dentist by the time they are a year old or when their first baby tooth appears.

California’s Oral Health Exam Requirement

When your child enters school, they must undergo an oral health assessment. According to California Education Code Section 49452.8, all public school students must have a dental evaluation on or before May 31 of their first year enrolled in school. An appointment is scheduled for your child with an approved dental professional, which you are required to keep. If your child has had a dental assessment within the 12 months before school enrollment, this can be submitted to meet the state requirement. The assessment has to be performed by a licensed dentist or registered dental health professional.

Why Does California Require an Oral Health Assessment?

Oral health assessments identify oral health issues that require follow-up or treatment by a dentist. A routine dental checkup meets the state’s requirements and protects your child’s oral health.

California enacted the oral health assessment legislation in response to a growing problem with childhood dental health concerns. The legislation aims to ensure every child has access to regular dental care and establishes a positive relationship with their dental care provider. The requirement will also help health officials determine and address any lack of available care for students and their families.

If you have questions about the Oral Health Assessment requirement or would like to schedule your child’s pediatric dental exam, please call our office at San Mateo Office Phone Number 650-372-9292.