Some schools require a back-to-school dental exam and this is a good time to plan one of your child’s dental visits. A back-to-school dental visit will help to spot and deal with dental issues so your child doesn’t need to miss classes once school begins. This is also a good time to refocus on your child’s dental habits which may have fallen away during the summer.
Here are a few questions to ask at your child’s dental appointment:
How Is My Child’s Overall Dental Health?
The dentist will be looking at the big picture of your child’s mouth, including teeth and gums. The dentist will check to ensure that the teeth are lining up correctly, the child’s bite is in good shape and watch out for any orthodontic issues that may appear later.
Will My Child Get a Cleaning Today?
Back-to-school is a great time to get a cleaning to make up for those times that your kids might have forgotten to use their toothbrush while busy with summer camps and activities. However, a professional cleaning is an absolute necessity, no matter how well your kid brushes. Even if you brush twice a day it’s not possible to get rid of all the bacteria that can lead to cavities. That’s why professional cleaning goes a long way. It expels a greater amount of cavity-causing bacteria, helps to keep gum tissues healthy, and keeps your smile bright.
Does My Child Need an X-Ray?
X-rays help your dentist understand how your child’s teeth are growing and ensure the tooth roots are healthy. They are also used to check whether there is any tooth decay between the child’s teeth. The decay process can advance quickly, so the earlier it is caught the better.
Can You Check My Child’s Mouthguard?
If your child plays sports, make sure to bring their mouthguard along so the dentist can check for wear, tear, and fit. If the child is having a growth spurt, losing teeth and getting new ones, the mouthguard might need to be replaced.
What Are Sealants and Does My Child Need Them?
Sealants can be another way to keep your child from getting cavities (but they are no replacement for regular brushing and flossing!). A sealant is a thin defensive coating (made from safe 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 stop cavities from forming and prevents tiny existing spots of decay from getting worse.
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 around age 6, then again around age 12). When permanent molars start coming in, parents should ask if sealants are recommended. Most sealants last for years, and the child’s dentist will make sure they’re holding strong at every regular visit.