Why should I make dental visits part of my back to school routine?

Backpack? Check. Pencil case? Check. Ruler? Check. Dental checkup? Better check!

Back to school routines should include a trip to your Madison dentist to make sure kids start the school year right. Dental visits not only help your child ensure a healthy smile. They're an important part of helping kids be healty overall, since research links oral health and overall health.

A trip to your kids' Madison dentist before they hit the books also helps make sure they won't miss school (and you won't miss work) due to unforeseen dental-related illness. The US Surgeon General reports that 51 million school hours are missed each year because of dental-related illnesses. More than 164 million work hours are lost each year because of dental problems. In Dane County, the number-one reason for missed school days is dental-related illness. You can help your child avoid discomfort, pain or missed school by committing to regular dental checkups every six months for your children and for you.

Check out Growing Smiles for information about what your school-bound youngster can expect at every age and stage. Or request your appointment now. First Choice Dental offers Family Scheduling, making it easy for the whole family to get in in one trip. Perfect for families on the go.

At your child's visit, the dental hygienist will clean your child's teeth and take current x-rays if needed. First Choice Dental follows ADA guidelines for dental x-rays for the safety of your family. Your Madison dentist will check tooth and jaw development, complete a dental exam and answer all your questions about your child's smile. Your dentist may also discuss next steps for your child with regard to orthodontic treatment or other treatment planning to take care of dental health issues identified during the exam. Your dentist may recommend flouride or sealants to prevent decay and cavities. Your dentist can also answer questions about nutrition, fluoride, sports safety for your child's smile and more. Back to school time is the perfect time to get a handle of all of these issues that impact your child's health. For more info on what to expect at your child's dental visit, visit Growing Smiles on our website.

Back to school is also a great time to reinforce healthy at-home dental habits. Here are a few ideas!

  • Brush twice a day: Get into the habit of twice-daily brushing to keep tartar and plaque away and avoid decay.
  • Floss every day: If dental floss is too tricky for little fingers, the plastic flosser tools work great. They even come in fun shapes to make flossing a little more fun.
  • Consider fluoride: At your child's appointent, your dentist may recommend a fluoride treatment to prevent cavities. Your dentist can also help you assess whether or not your child is getting the right amount of fluoride at home on a regular basis, and help you choose an at-home fluoride rinse your child can use after brushing to keep them cavity-free!
  • Choose water for a healthy smile! Water is the best way to hydrate your body as well as your smile, as well as to wash away acid and food particles left from eating. Helping your kids get into the habit of drinking water with meals and rinsing with water after eating will help keep cavity-causing bacteria to a minimum.
  • Avoid all-day snacking. A school schedule helps a lot versus the opportunity kids have in the summer to snack throughout the day, which can introduce cavity-causing bacteria to the mouth more frequently for more frequent damage to teeth.
  • Choose healthy meals and snacks for a healthy smile. Think crunchy and natural foods, like crunchy raw veggies and fruits, nuts and whole grains. These foods also stimulate saliva production which contains chemicals to help rebalance the ph level in your mouth to neutral (7) as opposed to acidity in the mouth, which increases chance of decay. Avoid sticky, sweet and chewy processed foods that stick to teeth and gums. Also avoid sugary, acidic beverages and snacks such as fruit snacks, energy drinks, acidic juices and soda. These decrease the ph balance in the mouth, which increases chance of decay.
  • After-school sports should include a mouth guard for face and smile protection! Not just for football or hockey, but also for soccer, baseball, volleyball and skateboarding! Keep those pearly whites safe with a mouth guard. Your Madison dentist can recommend brands that work best, or even create a custom-fit mouth guard for your young Olympian.
  • Establish good bedtime dental health routines: Long days, long homework sessions and the challenge of getting back into the swing of things can leave kids begging to "brush twice tomorrow" instead of brushing before bed. But decay-causing bacteria never sleep. In fact, they wake up when you go to sleep, working all night long to build up plaque and tartar. Brush and floss before bed every single night. Your smile will thank you!

These ideas and a trip to your dentist in Madison can help your child start the school year off right! Visit our Locations or request your appointment online 24/7 at your convenience.