As our children head back to school, we have a list of items on our checklist to get done. Usually this list includes shopping for new school clothes and buying essential books but dental check ups are often overlooked. Recent research has shown many students falling behind educationally because of poor oral care. During the long summer vacation those regular routines of brushing and flossing often suffer. To help avoid issues popping up during the school year that could potentially lead to loss of classroom time it would be wise to consider a visit to the dentist prior to starting school.
Seeing your dentist regularly has many benefits to an adult as well as a child. What goes on at these visits?
-Review Of Medical History. Study after study has shown that there is a direct link between our oral health and our general health. Regularly updating your child’s medical history will keep you up to date to any changes that may be occuring in your child’s health. This allows the dental team to make the necessary adjustments to your child’s treatment. Some of these changes could include changes in medications, recent surgeries or injuries, or even changes in your child’s vitamin routine. What may seem trivial to you could have definite implications to your child’s dental treatment.
-Dental X-Rays. Not every routine dental visit will include dental x-rays. For most children, they are recommended to be taken once a year. Dental x-rays give the dentist and hygienist a clearer window into the your dental health. Tooth decay, periodontal disease, and tumors can be detected using x-rays.
-Periodontal Examination. This includes examining your glands, periodontal tissues, lips, and tongue to ensure everything looks and feels normal. Routinely, your hygienist will perform a periodontal screening which includes checking around each individual tooth for the presence of bone loss. While advanced periodontal disease is rare in children it can occur. More likely, gingivitis will occur which appears as red, puffy gum tissue that easily bleeds when brushing. This is especially important for teenagers as their hormone levels are changing making them more susceptible to developing periodontal disease. Also, gingivitis can show up in the form of bad breath. Which can be socially awkward for our teens.
-Teeth Scaling And Polish. This should include using both ultrasonic instruments as well as hand instruments. The ultrasonic instruments are used to debride and remove debris above the gum line. While hand instruments are used to attack areas below the gum line to ensure all the plaque and tartar are effectively removed. Stains can also be removed using these instruments. And finally, your hygienist will polish your teeth to make them smooth and shiny.
-Fluoride Treatment. Fluoride is an important mineral in the health of our teeth. It occurs naturally in many foods as well as water. During the course of our daily lives, our teeth are constantly losing and gaining fluoride through two processes: remineralization (adding fluoride) and demineralization (losing fluoride). When there is more demineralization than remineralization tooth decay occurs.
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to attacks from acid, plaque bacteria, and sugars in the mouth. It also has the ability to reverse very early tooth decay. It is most definitely important for children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years to be exposed to fluoride. This is the time period during which the primary and permanent teeth develop and erupt into the mouth. Fluoride also helps speed remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both children and adults.
-Dental Examination. During this examination your dentist will discuss with the hygienist anything that they may have found during their examination. This is important because the dentist can then pay particular attention to certain areas to ensure the proper treatment plan is developed. Following the examination, your dentist will discuss with you if any treatment is needed.
-Patient Education. An educated patient makes the best choices for his/her dental care and this includes children. Therefore this part is just as important as any other part. Your dentist or hygienist might use visual aids, like a disclosing solution, to show areas that you may need work to on at home. Demonstrations of proper flossing and brushing technique may also be shown at this time.
-Increased Health. Your child will benefit from receiving the best possible dental care in a timely manner before problems get out of hand.
-Increased Self Confidence. A healthy smile will increase ones self confidence allowing them to perform better socially and at school.
-Increased Educationally Opportunities. By staying on top of their dental health, your children will not be forced to miss classroom time to tend to their dental issues.
-Better Focus. Knowing that your dental health is on track will relieve you and your children of any worry as the year progresses.
As you can see above there are many benefits to having your child see your dentist regularly. Best of all you are setting them on a path to maintaining their dental health and their smiles for a lifetime.