Did you know:
- Dental disease is more common in U.S. children than any other chronic disease.
- Nearly 60% of U.S. children have tooth decay.
- Oral health problems can have negative effects on a child's general health and development.
- School absences from dental disease result in school funding losses.
- Children between the ages of 5-17 miss two or more days of school for dental problems.
- Significant consequences of tooth decay including pain, chewing difficulties, and lack of sleep can impact learning and growth.
So what can you do as a parent to prepare your child for a successful dental visit? Here are some great tips from the Mayo Clinic.
To help prepare your child for a dental exam:
- Carefully time your child's visit. Schedule dental exams for your child at a time of day when he or she is well rested and most likely to be cooperative.
- Be positive. When talking to your child about his or her dental exam, avoid using words such as "pain" or "hurt." Instead, tell your child that the dentist will use special tools to make sure your child's teeth are healthy. Remind your child that you visit the dentist, too — but don't talk about any negative dental experiences you might have had.
- Listen to your child. Encourage your child to share any fears he or she might have about visiting the dentist or having a dental exam.
- Toddlers, school-age children and adolescents
During each regular checkup, the dentist or hygienist will continue to evaluate your child's oral hygiene and overall health, drinking and eating habits, and his or her risk of tooth decay. In addition to cleaning your child's teeth, the dentist or hygienist might:
As your child gets older, dental exams might also include counseling about the oral health risks associated with:
- Take dental X-rays or, if necessary, do other diagnostic procedures
- Apply sealants — thin, protective plastic coatings — to permanent molars and other back teeth susceptible to decay
- Repair any cavities or tooth defects
- Look for any problems in the way your child's upper and lower teeth fit together
- Counsel your child about the impact of thumb sucking, jaw clenching or nail biting
- Recommend pre-orthodontic treatment, such as a special mouthpiece, or orthodontics, such as braces, to straighten your child's teeth or adjust your child's bite
The dentist or hygienist might also discuss the possible removal of your child's wisdom teeth (third molars).Dental X-ray
- Drinking sugary beverages
- Chewing tobacco
- Eating disorders
- Oral piercings
- Not wearing a mouth guard during contact sports
A dental X-ray allows the dentist to see detailed images of specific sections of your child's mouth. Traditional X-ray film is developed in a darkroom, but a newer technique allows X-ray images to be sent to a computer and viewed on a screen. Various types of oral X-rays are available, including:
X-rays aren't typically needed at every dental visit. Radiation exposure from dental X-rays is low — but talk to the dentist if you're concerned about the radiation exposure.
- Bitewing. This type of X-ray allows the dentist to see the crowns of the upper and lower teeth. During a bitewing X-ray, your child will bite down on the X-ray film holder while the X-ray images are being taken.
- Periapical. This type of X-ray allows the dentist to see the entire tooth and the surrounding bone.
- Occlusal. This type of X-ray allows the dentist to see the way the upper teeth and corresponding lower teeth fit together when the jaw is closed.
- Panoramic. This type of X-ray gives the dentist a broad view of the entire mouth.
There is a lot you can do to assure your child has a great start to a new school year. If you have any particular concerns that we can help you with, please don't hesitate to ask. Sometimes having things explained by an adult other than yourself can reinforce ideas that are important to you.
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