According to the American Dental Association (ADA) 51 million school hours are wasted each year on treating dental diseases in children. This number shouldn’t be surprising, because the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that tooth decay is one of the most common chronic infectious diseases found in children. Every year before we send our children back to school we schedule immunizations, booster shots, and pediatric check-ups – how about adding a back-to-school dental exam to the list?
The beginning of the school year is an excellent time for your children to have their teeth examined, because your dentist can find and treat tooth problems now, before they turn into missed school hours later. Tooth pain and mouth discomfort can impede a child’s ability to speak up in class, eat lunch, play with other children, and focus on learning during the day. Additionally, your children’s eating habits probably diverged from the norm over the summer – between ice cream on sweltering summer days and daily summer camp, they may have consumed more sugar than usual.
During a back-to-school dental visit, your dentist will ensure the overall health of your child’s mouth by:
- Performing a mouth and gum examination. At young ages, children’s teeth are still growing and shifting. Your dentist will check to see if the new molars and teeth are lining up correctly and if there may be a need for future orthodontal work, such as braces or a retainer. An examination will also confirm that your child’s gums are healthy and that his or her bite is even.
- Performing a professional cleaning. Even the most diligent efforts to brush and floss at home cannot remove all the nasty bacteria that lurks around waiting to cause cavities. After long summer days eating sweets and summer sleepovers with friends where you couldn’t remind your children to brush their teeth at night, a thorough cleaning before school starts is just what the dentist ordered. Cleanings remove plaque and tartar buildup from hard-to-reach places, kill mouth bacteria, and remove stains from teeth.
- Taking an x-ray. X-rays are a dental necessity for your dentist to check that tooth roots are healthy and that there is no decay hiding between teeth. New x-rays are not required at every visit, but inquire with your dentist if it has been several years since your child’s gotten one.
- Examining dental hardware. Back to school means back to sports as well – if your child uses a mouthguard for sports activities, bring that in to make sure it is in good shape and still fitting well. Bring in a retainer as well if your child uses one – it’s one more task you can check off your back-to-school to-do list, and it can save you an orthodontist’s trip later in the school year.
- Talking with you about your child’s dental health. You may have questions about how to keep your child’s mouth healthy during the school year, or your dentist may have suggestions on how to protect a young and growing mouth. Your dentist may recommend the use of sealants or fluoride treatments for overall oral health – read here to learn about how fluoride can help prevent cavities in children. You dentist can also discuss healthy snacks and lunches your can prepare for your child, to prevent the risk of developing cavities from too much sugar consumption.
Of course, there are some lessons your child cannot learn in school, such as the importance of good oral hygiene. All children should be brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. Parents, please remember to schedule your children for dental check-ups every six months. Now that school is back in session, let Dr. Boyett and her team of caring dental hygienists be your teacher in all things dental related. To schedule your child’s back-to-school exam, call Boyett Family Dentistry at 863-294-1916 today.