According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay is the primary chronic infectious disease that affects children, and approximately 19% of children ages two to nineteen currently have untreated tooth decay. The start of a new school year is a great time to schedule a dental check-up for your child – your dentist can identify and treat problems before the busy school year begins.
With that in mind, here are five tips to help you make sure your child’s dental care is up to date at the start of the new school year.
Schedule a Check-Up Before School Starts
Scheduling a dental exam and cleaning is the best way you can ensure your child’s mouth, gums, and teeth are healthy as the new school year begins. Mouth pain from cavities can hinder a child’s abilities to eat, speak, and focus on schoolwork. Tooth decay is also responsible for school absences – it causes children to miss more than fifty-one million hours of school each year.
As busy schedules build around after-school activities or sports practices, it will become less convenient to find a time to schedule a dentist’s appointment. Schedule one now before the school year kicks off, so your child’s oral health doesn’t fall by the wayside.
Review Proper Toothbrushing Techniques
Summer upends normal routines – including toothbrushing routines. And if your child spent the entire summer at camp, he or she may have never touched a toothbrush at all. As you begin setting new routines for the school year, make sure proper toothbrushing and flossing is included. Review good brushing techniques and monitor your child for the first few days once school starts, until the habit is set.
Prepare Healthy Snacks and School Lunches
During the dog days of summer, your child may have lived on popsicles and ice cream cones. But the start of a new school year is a good time to begin practicing healthier food habits. If you are packing your child’s lunches and snacks, prepare meals with plenty of whole grains, nuts, yogurt, cheese, and fresh fruits and veggies. On busy days, it may be tempting to pack grab-and-go bags of chips and cookies, but try to limit your child’s intake of sugars and processed foods. Excess consumption of sugars and simple starches lead to tooth decay. If your child will be purchasing school lunch, review healthy choices beforehand.
Ask About a Mouthguard
If your child will be participating in organized sports this year, visit your dentist to have a mouthguard fitted. Trauma to the face can result in cracked, chipped, or even broken teeth. Make sure your child wears his or her mouthguard at every game – and at every practice session too.
Sealants are placed when a child’s molars start to appear – first molars erupt between ages six and seven and second molars come in between ages twelve and thirteen. Molars are the most vulnerable teeth to cavities, because they bear the brunt of chewing force and because they have grooves and dips on the surface. Food gets trapped in these grooves, which leads to tooth decay. Dental sealants are a plastic coating placed over the chewing surfaces of molars. Sealants protect these teeth from plaque build-up, and they’ve been shown to reduce the risk of cavities during a child’s formative years, when teeth are still growing and strengthening. Ask your dentist what he or she recommends for your child.
Make sure your child’s school year starts off right – with a clean bill of health from the dentist. If you’re ready to schedule an appointment, contact us at Boyett Family Dentistry today.