Each year as kids head back to school, parents do everything they can to be certain their children are prepared for the coming year. To ensure a child’s general health, some schools require physical examinations prior to the start of school; some require children prove they are current on all immunizations and booster shots; some require vision and hearing tests. No parent would minimize the importance of a child starting the school year in the best physical shape possible. And yet, many parents overlook the importance of ensuring a child’s oral health as the academic year begins.

For most young Tucsonans, school will be starting in the next few weeks. Getting back into the daily school routine can be difficult. A child suffering with a toothache, or other chronic dental problems, may find it impossible to concentrate, making school even more challenging.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), untreated tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions, and can cause problems with a child’s ability to eat, speak, play, and learn. CDC statistics shows that about 1 in 5 children, ages 5-11, have a least one untreated decayed tooth.

One thing that helps prevent cavities is fluoride. Most communities add fluoride to their public water supply. For communities that don’t, or for children that drink bottled water rather than tap water, brushing regularly with toothpaste containing fluoride or using a fluoride rinse also offers protection. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry systematic use of fluoride reduces cavities by 50-70%.

The application of sealants is another method for preventing cavities in children. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends getting sealants applied to molars as soon as they appear. Children usually get their first permanent molars between the ages of 5 and 7, and second permanent molars between the ages of 11 and 14. Molars have uneven grooves, which are resistant to brushing, and in which food and bacteria can collect. Sealants, which last for several years, fill the grooves and protect the tooth’s enamel reducing cavities by 80%.

The best way to be certain your child starts the school year with a big, healthy smile is to schedule a back-to-school dental appointment. Dr. Brei or Dr. Schneider can check for and prevent cavities, monitor a child’s changing jaw development and bite, and fit young athletes with a protective, custom-fit mouthguard.

Give your child the healthiest possible start to the upcoming academic year, and call our office today to make an appointment for a back-to-school dental checkup!