5 Questions to Ask at Your Child’s Back-to-School Dental Visit

5 Questions to Ask at Your Child’s Back-to-School Dental Visit

With the advent of fall, schools are planning their re opening. Whether your child will be in remote learning or in the classroom, a healthy smile remains a back-to-school essential.

Whether your child’s school requires a back-to-school dental exam or not, it’s always a good time of year to schedule one of your child’s regular visits.

Our responsibility is to spot any trouble areas early to prevent more serious future problems during your child’s visit.  During summer play time, regular habits of brushing and flossing may have fallen by the wayside. There may have been more sugary treats available as well.

And just as this school year might be looking a bit different for your child, their back-to-school dental appointment will have some changes too. Read "COVID-19: What to Expect When Your Dentist's Office Reopens" to learn more about the steps your child's dentist is taking to keep them safe at their appointment.

Here are a few questions to ask at your child’s dental appointment:

How Is My Child’s Overall Dental Health?

Your dentist will be looking at the big picture of your child’s mouth, including teeth and gums.

The dental exam includes an orthodontic evaluation to ensure that early bite and crowding, or jaw alignment issues are corrected early. We also check for cavities and gum irritations as well as how the developing teeth under the gums are progressing. Your child may be losing some primary teeth during normal growth and development. If they are lost early or too late, they could interfere with the adult set coming in straight.

Will My Child Get a Cleaning Today?

Cleanings are necessary to maintain a healthy mouth, even if your child is a great brusher. Brushing cannot remove all of the bacterial deposits and stains that routinely form on the teeth. These bacteria can lead to cavities or painful gums. That’s the reason why a professional cleaning is so helpful.

Does My Child Need an X-Ray?

X-rays will help your dentist see how your child’s adult teeth are developing and make sure the tooth roots are healthy. They also are used to see if there is any tooth decay between your child’s teeth. Cavities can destroy a tooth in 6 months if proper home care is not observed. This is why early observation and care is so important.

Can You Check My Child’s Mouthguard?

If your child plays sports bring his or her mouthguard along so your dentist can check for wear, tear and fit. When children grow, their jaws and teeth move also, so the mouthguard may no longer fit, or worse, may cause some crowding problems.

What Are Sealants?

Sealants can be another way to keep your child from getting cavities, but they’re no substitute for brushing and flossing. A sealant is a thin, protective coating (made from plastic or other dental materials) that your dentist can place on the chewing surfaces of your child’s permanent back teeth (pre molars and molars). Once they’re on, sealants work to keep cavity-causing bacteria and bits of food from settling into the tiny crevices your child’s toothbrush can’t reach into. This helps keep cavities from forming.

Since having sealants on your permanent back teeth reduces the risk of cavities by 80%, It’s great benefit to get sealants as soon as your child’s permanent molars come through their gums (usually at age 6, then again at age 12). Placing a sealant is a painless and quick process. When permanent molars start coming in, parents should ask to have sealants placed even if insurance does not cover it. Sealants can last for years, and at every dental visit they can be checked to see if they are still working