It is that time of year again when students of all ages are going back to school. It is important to remember that in addition to the recommended supplies, a healthy mouth is also a necessity.
According to the American Dental Association, a dental examination is as important as immunizations and booster shots and should be a regular part of back-to-school preparations. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that tooth decay affects U.S. children more than any other chronic infectious disease and 19 percent of children ages 2 to 19 years old have untreated decay. Dental pain or disease can lead to difficulty in eating, speaking, playing and learning as well as millions of hours of missed school.
Students' back-to-school checklist:
1. Regular clinical and radiographic dental examinations to diagnose, treat and/or prevent dental problems are always important. In school guardians and teachers may not always realize there's a dental problem, so a regular checkup before school is especially important. Your dentist may suggest fluoride treatments or sealants to prevent decay and can diagnose and treat dental problems such as decay to save your child discomfort and lost attendance.
2. A regular hygiene program including brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing. Visit the dental care section when you're out shopping for school supplies. If parents buy several toothbrushes they could have their child change to a new one every three months or so, or after an illness. If it's hard to remember when to change a brush, you could try to change it every time report cards come out. Ask your dentist for a recommendation on how often to change toothbrushes and other hygiene tips.
3. A tooth healthy diet plan. Include portable healthy lunch items and snacks in your child's sack lunch, including grains, milk, cheese, raw vegetables, yogurt or fruit. If your child eats in the school cafeteria, review healthy, balanced food choices with him/her before the first day of school. It is always a good idea to reduce sugary foods and soft drinks as excessive sugar can not only cause dental decay, but is also unhealthy for a young person's overall health.
4. Wearing a properly fitted mouth guard while participating in organized sports, PE classes or playground activities.
Good luck to all the kids who are headed back to school and remember if you take care of your teeth now, they will return the favor for a lifetime!