(StatePoint) As schools nationwide decide how they’ll reopen for the fall semester, it’s important to schedule your child’s dental visit to ensure they’re in good oral health.
“A back-to-school visit can help spot and take care of any issues so your child doesn’t have to miss class once school starts. It’s also a great time to get back on track if some of your child’s dental habits have slipped a bit from normal routines,” says Dr. Ruchi Sahota, American Dental Association (ADA) spokesperson.
According to Dr. Sahota and the experts at the ADA, here are a few things parents should keep in mind:
• Schedule early: Many dentists are seeing fewer patients daily than they did before dental practices were closed earlier this year for routine visits. This is to ensure all science-based guidance and safety protocols are followed. Factor this in, and call to schedule an appointment as early as possible. This will help ensure your child gets in before school starts.
• Know what to expect: Dental visits have changed in the COVID-19 era. When making your appointment, ask about waiting room procedures, whether you can go back with your child, and other considerations.
“Some things at the dental office may look different, so talk to your child before the appointment and let them know these changes are in place to help keep people safe. For example, your dentist may be using different protective equipment like masks that cover more of their face, as well as goggles, face shields and gowns,” says Dr. Sahota. “It may all seem strange to your child, but a conversation ahead of time can help put them at ease. Remind them that underneath the mask and shield, it’s still their same doctor.”
• Why check-ups matter: Poor oral health can have a detrimental effect on a child’s quality of life and future, however prevention and early detection of dental conditions can help avoid pain, trouble eating, difficulty speaking and school absences.
Keep in mind that dental issues are more common than you may think. Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the U.S., reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with about one in five children ages 5–11 having at least one untreated decayed tooth. At the appointment, ask your dentist about your child’s overall dental health, as well if he or she spotted any cavities. This is also a good time to inquire about sealants, which can reduce the risk of cavities by 80 percent. If your child plays sports, a dental appointment is also an opportunity for your dentist to check their mouth guard for wear, tear and fit.
To send your child off to class with a healthy smile, it’s important to schedule a back-to-school dental visit. Not only are they required by some school districts, but they’re essential for oral and overall health.
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