It may not be on your back-to-school list, but scheduling a dental checkup should be part of your plans before your child starts his or her next school year.
According to a 2000 Surgeon General’s report, more than 51 million school hours were lost each year to dental-related illness. Nearly 15 years later, a Pew Charitable Trust study found similar results. Children were still missing far too many days of school due to poor dental health. Many, if not all of these absences could be avoided with proper preventative care. A healthy mouth leads to a happy student, and dental checkups are one way to ensure they’re on the right track for the new school year.
Here are some things to expect at your child’s dental checkup:
The dentist will examine your child’s entire mouth, making sure her teeth and gums are healthy. Are her teeth lined up properly? Are there any signs of future orthodontic issues? Your dentist will be able to give you a clear picture of your child’s dental health leading into the school year.
Even if your child is a dedicated tooth-brusher, the dentist will perform a cleaning to remove all the built-up plaque and bacteria that develops in your child’s mouth. According to studies, childhood tooth decay is five times more common than asthma, which makes a cleaning paramount.
Children need dental X-rays more than adults in part because their teeth and root systems are still developing, and due to the decay that can develop quickly in young mouths. There is a small amount of radiation involved in digital X-rays, so discuss with your dentist if that is a concern. X-rays may not be required at each visit.
If you are concerned about your child getting cavities, sealants may be a preventative measure to ask your dentist about. A sealant is a thin coating that is placed on the surface of your child’s permanent molars to prevent bacteria and food from getting into hard-to-reach places.
According to the American Dental Association, having sealants on permanent molars helps reduce the risk of cavities by 80 percent.
Most importantly, a back-to-school checkup from an experienced and helpful dental professional will go a long way in solidifying your child’s dental health, both now and in the future, and lead them into the school year with a dazzling smile.