Even though it seems like summer has just gotten started, the reality is that many children and teens will head back to school in a month or less. As you are probably aware, good oral hygiene habits need to be encouraged and started early in life to avoid serious dental problems down the road. But can you do anything besides policing the recommended twice daily brushing and flossing? Yes, as a parent or guardian, you sure can!
But First… When Should I Start Taking My Child to the Dentist?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), ideally you should take your child to the dentist when the first tooth appears or by their first birthday. Here’s a startling statistic – according to the AAPD, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease! This is almost entirely preventable by early starting and maintaining of good oral habits.
Before School Starts
It’s a good idea to schedule a visit for your children with your dental professional for an exam and cleaning before everything gets crazy with school, sports and other activities that gear up with the beginning of school. Besides getting this out of the way while things are relatively calm, if any issues with your children’s oral health are spotted, you’ll have more time to deal with it now than later and potentially avoid your child missing school. Another bonus to checking this off your back-to-school list early is appointment availability. Most dentists, and especially pediatric dentists, are slammed by the time school starts.
Make It A Pleasant Visit
A big part of how children grow up to maintain good oral health habits is the perception they have from childhood of a visit to the dentist. You can do some small things that will go a long way toward making sure your children have a positive experience at the dentist. For example, time your appointment to coincide with a time when your child is most likely to be in a good mood: Toddlers probably won’t take a visit during what is normally naptime well and older kids don’t need to cram a visit to the dentist in after a busy and tiring day at camp. Make sure your little patient doesn’t have a grumbling tummy during a dental visit by feeding him or her a light meal before the appointment. Be calm and cool during the appointment – even if you yourself have mental anxiety about the visit.
What to Expect
Of course, what happens at your child’s dental visit will depend on his or her age and experience. For most routine back-to-school checkups, however, you can expect that your child will first receive a dental evaluation that includes a thorough inspection of the overall health of teeth and gums, whether teeth are lining up correctly and, of course, whether or not the Tooth Fairy is coming on schedule! Next, your dental professional should perform a cleaning. A good cleaning will go a long way towards helping rid the oral area of harmful bacteria that can lead to the most common issue for children and teeth – the dreaded cavity. Depending on what the dentist or hygienist finds, your child may receive an X-ray, but this is only done when strictly necessary to seek out underlying issues.
You may be asked if you want to have dental sealants applied to your child’s teeth. Sealants, while they won’t take the place of daily brushing and flossing, are a good idea because the thin, protective coating can help keep bacteria from those areas where a toothbrush cannot reach. Sealants are applied after a child’s permanent molars have come in and statistics say they can reduce the risk of cavities by 80 percent.
So, as you start – maybe reluctantly – checking those back-to-school items off your list, don’t forget to put a healthy and bright smile on your child’s face for the first day of school by scheduling a dental visit. Visit San Antonio Periodontics & Implants blog for more important tips and information.
Our professional and gentle treatment of gum disease, cosmetic procedures and dental implants is personalized.