Oral & Vision Health Blog

4 Things to Expect at a Back-to-School Dental Visit

Between the scavenger hunt for school supplies and purchasing school uniforms, the back-to-school dental check-up might be one of the most important end-of-summer rituals. Back to school health is a great predictor of your child's success in a new school year, as being proactive visiting the dentist can prevent any absences caused by a dental emergency.

A back-to-school check-up helps prevent long-term damage from occasional bad habits. Here are three things to expect at a back-to-school dental visit:

Annual X-ray

Kids' teeth are constantly changing and dentists will often want annual X-rays. These can help track the way teeth are moving, predict problems and monitor healthy development. If your child hasn't had X-rays in a year or more, they should expect to "bite down" and pose for a new portfolio. If your teen is having their back to school check up, you may expect the dentist make recommendations about wisdom teeth removal, as wisdom teeth usually erupt starting at the age of 17.

Routine Cleaning

Any plaque that has accumulated, especially between the back teeth or behind the front teeth, will be removed. A hygienist can point out where the plaque deposits were heaviest. That information can help kids know where to brush better or, in many cases, floss regularly. The dentist will come in after the cleaning and make additional recommendations about brushing habits. 

Damage Control

Cavities that have developed since the last checkup will likely need to be filled. Depending on the dentist's schedule and the scope of the repairs, this may happen at the check-up or at a follow-up appointment. Decayed tissue will be removed from the tooth and a filling will be applied to prevent further damage. Sealants can be a way to keep your child from getting cavities. A sealant is a thin, protective coating that the dentist can place on the chewing surfaces of your child’s permanent back teeth. Once they’re on, sealants work to keep cavity-causing bacteria from settling on your child's teeth. During the check-up visit, ask your child's dentist about sealants. 

Consulting with the Orthodontist 

If you have been wondering if your child needs braces, this is the perfect time to ask. The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that kids have a consultation when they turn 7 years old. By the age of 7, most kids have at least four permanent incisors and four molars. An orthodontist can create a personalized care plan for your child, based on rate of growth and unique issues such as overcrowding or poor bite. 

Depending on your child's oral condition, the back-to-school dental check up may also result in a referral for an orthodontic evaluation or another specialist. Expect to get helpful advice about your child's specific oral care obstacles—whether it's a crowded mouth, dietary concerns, weak enamel or a tendency to not brush well in certain areas of the mouth. For long-term health and wellness, it's important to start the school year on the right track, which includes a healthy mouth and gums. We know dentist visits aren't on kids favorite thing to do list but here is a free fun dental coloring book to get them excited for their check-up appointment!

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