August is the time to prepare to go back to school. There are lots of things to do to get your child ready to go back to school!
Between end of summer family reunions, get-togethers, camping trips and everything else on your family’s end of summer bucket list, it’s easy for school to sneak up on you. Once school starts, it gets even harder to schedule.
Dental Checkups are a big part of Back To School preparation!
Back to school checkups are key in fighting the most common chronic disease found in school-age children: cavities! The ADA estimates that dental disease causes children to miss more than 51 million school hours each year.
Back to school checkups are a way to detect cavities early. Early detection and treatment can help your child avoid pain, trouble eating, difficulty speaking and school absences.
“When people are beginning to do their pediatrician checks to make sure their kids are school-ready, make sure teeth are part of it,” says pediatric dentist and American Dental Association spokesperson Dr. Mary Hayes.
Questions to ask Dr. Goodwin and the Hygienist at a Back To School Checkup:
- How is my child’s overall dental health?
Dr. Goodwin will be looking at the “big picture” of your child’s mouth, including teeth and gums. The exam and Xrays are the parts that help create the overall prognosis of your child’s dental health. As part of this process, Dr. Goodwin will evaluate your child for caries, orthodontic needs, and overall health. Brushing and flossing habits will also be examined.
- Does my child need a mouthguard?
If your child is playing any sport (football, basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, etc), they need to be fitted for a professional-grade mouthguard. Studies show that athletes are 60 times more likely to have sports-related injuries. Custom mouthguards are an essential part of your child’s protective gear. Mouthguards need to be checked periodically to ensure that the guard still fits your child and that it is still protecting the teeth appropriately.
- Does my child need sealants?
Sealants can be another way to keep your child from getting cavities, but they’re no substitute for brushing and flossing. A sealant is a thin, protective coating (made from plastic or other dental materials) that your dentist can place on the chewing surfaces of your child’s permanent back teeth (called molars). Once they’re on, sealants work to keep cavity-causing bacteria and bits of food from settling into the nooks and crannies
your child’s toothbrush can’t reach. This helps keep cavities from forming and tiny existing spots of decay from getting worse.
In fact, having sealants on your permanent molars reduces the risk of cavities by 80%. It’s best to get sealants as soon as your child’s permanent molars come through their gums (usually at age 6, then again at age 12). “It doesn’t hurt to put on or apply a sealant,” Dr. Hayes says. “When permanent molars start coming in, parents should ask if sealants are recommended.” Most last for years, and your child’s dentist will make sure they’re holding strong at every regular visit.