Routine Dental Visits

To ensure healthy smiles, it is important for youth from 14 to 20 years old to visit their dental provider at least twice a year for routine dental exams and cleanings. A routine dental exam consists of dental x-rays, a gum health assessment, and an exam done by a dental professional to diagnose any cavities. Depending on the results of your oral health check-up, you may have to see your dental provider more often.


By age fourteen, your child has hopefully had a few sealants put onto their adult back teeth (molars and premolars). A sealant is a white-filling material that is placed into the grooves of the adult teeth to prevent future cavities from forming on the chewing surfaces of the tooth.

Your dental provider might recommend this service for each back tooth. It is never too late to have sealants placed on their molars, as long as the tooth is healthy and cavity-free. Ask your dental provider if your teen qualifies for sealants.

Wisdom Teeth

From the ages of around 17-21, third molars, most commonly known as wisdom teeth, begin to develop and emerge. Watch for signs of pain/discomfort from emerging or misaligned wisdom teeth and consult a dental provider if needed. It is recommended to have these teeth removed at a younger age because the procedure will be less painful, and the healing will be faster.

Gum Health Assessment

At around 16 years old, the dental professional will begin to perform a yearly gum health assessment. After the gum health assessment, the dental professional will recommend the type of cleaning best suited for you.

The two most commonly offered cleanings are a regular dental cleaning (prophylaxis) or a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing). Know all your options and consult with your dental provider as needed.

Types of Dental Cleanings

The regular dental cleaning (prophylaxis) is recommended for patients who have healthy gums and minimal tartar build up above the gums. The deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) is recommended for patients who have gums that may bleed when brushing or flossing and a moderate buildup of tartar above and below the gums.

After having a deep cleaning, it is important to note that more frequent cleanings are needed to maintain the gums and supporting structures of the mouth in good health. Your dental provider may suggest having dental cleanings done in an interval of every 3-5 months.

The Need for Braces

Your child may need braces if you identify:

  • Large spaces in between your child’s teeth and/or
  • Their teeth turn inwards or outwards
  • Crowding of the teeth

Other signs to look out for: your child avoids brushing and flossing because it is “hard,” for them to do.

While braces do improve the appearance of a smile, they also help to keep a healthier smile because straight teeth are easier to brush and floss.

Care by Dental Professionals Other than a Dentist

A dental provider or dental professional is a licensed individual that can provide dental services to you.  A dental provider is not limited to a Dentist. There are many other types of dental providers. You might receive a preventive dental service from a Registered Dental Hygienist, a Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice, or a Dentist.

Services providers by these professionals are also not limited to a dental clinic. You might be able to receive services in your community at a school, a nursing home or a mobile dental van. A few preventive treatments include: a dental cleaning, fluoride varnish application, placement of sealants, and placement of a temporary filling. Restorative treatments can only be provided by a Dentist in a clinical or a community setting; these treatments include: permanent cavity fillings, tooth extractions, root canal therapies, etc.

Find a Medi-Cal Dental Provider

If your child has Medi-Cal, they also have coverage for dental care. The Medi-Cal Dental Program covers a full range of dental services. If you have not yet found a dental home for your child, click on More Information below to search for Medi-Cal Dental Providers in Orange County.