​Back to School Dental Check-Ups

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Back to School Dental Check-Ups

During the months of August and September students from all over the United States will return to school from their summer breaks. Grades K-12 and even some colleges require proof that the student returning to school has been evaluated by a dental professional in close proximity to the beginning of the school year.

Throughout their young lives; children are the recipients of doting medical care that is inclusive of vaccines, routine checkups and, when needed, critical emergency care. Vision examinations and hearing tests are a mainstay in evaluating a child’s development throughout their early years. Vaccines are meant to protect children from a host of infectious diseases for a lifetime. Most parents acknowledge the importance of having their children meet the immunization schedule set by the professional medical community. Dental health has to be thrown into that equation.

There is no vaccine for decaying teeth. The only preventive measures that a child can take against the myriad number of insults to dental health that they may potentially experience are:

  • Eating a diet that is low in starches and sugars.
  • Regularly brushing and flossing their teeth at least twice daily.
  • Rinsing with a mouthwash that is approved for children.

Unfortunately, there are many parents that are not responsible enough to schedule their children for dental appointments or stay on top of their child’s oral hygiene habits. This is a terrible oversight. More than 50% of children in the 5-year-old to 9-year-old age group have a cavity. Some of these children are left untreated for long periods of time. When these cavities are not dealt with by a dental professional, children are left to their own devices to deal with the pain and discomfort. Children have a reputation for not directly relating all of their physical ailments to their caregivers. Instead, children often exhibit negative behaviors. These behaviors are their way of venting physical and mental pain.

This is something that teachers all across the country see every day. A child that is under duress may find it hard to concentrate on their lessons. They may also be a distraction to other children in their class. Because children lack the tools to deal with extremely stressful situations in a mature way, the common presentation of their pressures can come through in ways that are very disruptive to a classroom setting.

Dental problems cause many children to be absent from school. Obviously, if the child is not in school then they are not in an ideal setting for learning.

Examination

When the child goes to their dental appointment, a radiographer will take several radiographs of their oral cavity from various angles. These radiographs will be able to determine whether or not there are hidden signs of decay. Often times, tooth decay starts in places that are not visible to the human eye. Additionally, decay may progress steadily for a substantial period of time before there is any pain felt by the person that is afflicted by it.

During the visit, the dentist will make several inquiries about the child’s eating habits and oral hygiene practices.

Adolescents

Adolescence is a time of self-discovery for every child that is coming of age. This also tends to be a rebellious time in the lives of many young people. It is unfortunate that this is the time when many young people begin to engage in habits that pose risks to their dental health.

Most lifelong smokers begin the habit in their adolescent years or in the years immediately following their adolescence. A dentist will stress to their young patients that tobacco should be avoided if they want to maintain a healthy and bright smile for the rest of their lives.

Another activity that is harmful to dental health is the use of narcotics. Drug abuse can cause teeth to erode in horrendous ways. Tooth loss is a common side effect of drug use. Most of us have seen pictures of drug users with missing or terribly disfigured teeth. Nobody wants their teeth to end up that way. Many young people believe that they are invincible because all they know of life is being vibrant and healthy. They refuse to fathom that their actions can cause that to change. For those that are prone to partake in the use of drugs, it can be difficult for guardians and mentors to influence them to steer clear of the dangers of narcotics. Pictures of abusers and addicts with missing or damaged teeth have had a dramatic effect on the general public’s understanding of the negative outcomes of this activity. All adolescents want to look good. Exposure to those types of images is a striking way to get them to comprehend all that is at stake for them if they choose to make bad decisions about what they put into their bodies.

Orthodontics

By the time a child reaches the age of 7, they should be evaluated by an orthodontist. An orthodontist will be able to see problems with the structure of the oral cavity and the alignment of the teeth that laypeople will not be able to identify. If early intervention is necessary; it may appear costly, but it will almost always save far more money in the long run than is spent during the course of the orthodontic treatment.

When children reach the age of 7, they should be examined by an orthodontist.

Dental Care Tools

A pre-school dental checkup is not only the perfect time to be certain that a child’s dental health is optimal, it is also a great time to renew and/or upgrade the tools that they use in their dental care routine. A dentist will often provide the child with a new toothbrush. Long ago; when I was growing up, it was generally thought that hard tooth brush bristles were a good thing. In the decades since I was a child, the public has learned that soft bristles are superior to hard bristles because they cause less abrasions to the protective enamel that naturally coats each tooth. Today’s dentists provide soft bristle toothbrushes to their young patients.

Generally speaking, children should be directly supervised by an adult when they are brushing their teeth until they reach the age of approximately 11. Flossing is a skill that is a bit too advanced for very young children to master. It is best for parents to take it upon themselves to floss their children’s teeth. A child will typically be able to master the technique of flossing by the time they reach the age of 10.

Conclusion

Childhood dental examinations ensure that our children’s dental issues are being met with professional care. This makes for happy children that come to school with beaming smiles and a desire to learn how to become tomorrow’s leaders. 

This is a link to the ORA-BAND blog

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