Back To School Dental Checklist

This morning I woke up with an excited anticipation for my morning run. As I walked outside I was greeted with crisp September morning air and the distinct smell of Autumn. I quickly left the houses behind and found myself running through fields with vivid green and yellow stripes marking harvest time, and the sun began to peak over the hills creating long shadows from the speckling of hay bales. In the distance I could see the yellow leaves splayed over a wooden fence that completed my picture of Fall. I love where we live.

September marks the beginning of my favorite season, and it also marks the beginning of a brand new school year. Fresh paper, new pencils and erasers, clean binders, new backpacks, and a large “to-do” list. Do you have “visit the dentist” on that list? This can be a valuable addition.

Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infection and can lead to difficulty eating, speaking, socializing, and sleeping. Dental problems can also negatively affect school attendance and performance. There are preventative measures you can take to ensure your child’s dental health.

Routine dental visits

Dental visits for young children can detect problems early on, but equally as important they can help your child become comfortable at the dentist. Find a dentist who will take time with your child, provide a tour of the office, and allow exploration of the dental equipment. Providing a positive dental experience will go a long way in setting the framework for continued dental care throughout his or her lifetime. We routinely see people that have neglected their dental care for years and their reasons often include a bad dental experience as a child.

Home care

By the time your child is six he or she should have the coordination skills required to brush their teeth. Proper technique includes short up-and-down and back-and-forth strokes and brushing around the gum line. Floss picks are great for children because flossing is a more difficult skill. Children need to be monitored for thorough brushing until they are ten years old.


Ninety percent of cavities in children occur in the pits and creases on the tooth’s chewing surface. This is preventable with the use of sealants. Sealants are a clear protective coating placed over the top of permanent teeth. This coating prevents bacteria from entering and causing cavities.

Mouth guards

Does your child play contact sports? The best investment into his or her dental health is a mouth guard that protects those pearly whites. These mouth guards can be special ordered by your dentist, or you can buy one over-the-counter at your local drug store.

Things to watch for

When permanent teeth grow in you can check for overbite, underbite, or crossbite. Also, prolonged thumb sucking can cause problems with speech and bite after the age of five. You may try an at-home reward system to help curb the habit, or you can talk to your ddentist about other options to help overcome this tendency.

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