November 26, 2014

Add “dental checkup” to the back-to-school must-do list

With school starting soon, many Nebraska parents have already bought their children new clothes, backpacks and shoes, plus, they’ve taken the kids in for their vaccines. Dentist Dr. Ed Schooley is hoping they’ll do something else.

“We would like to have parents also think of getting their child in for a dental checkup as part of that back-to-school checklist,” Dr. Schooley says. “Despite all of the great advances, half the children ages 5 to 9 still have at least one cavity or filling at this point.”

Some schools require children who are newly enrolling to have a dental checkup. Schooley says the checkup won’t take too long.

“For the most part, you’re just screening for any kind of tooth decay or gum problems,” Schooley says. “It’s trying to insure that the kids are ready to go back to school and learn.”

He says dental checkups help with the early detection and treatment of dental disease and they promote the importance of a healthy mouth for school readiness.

“Fifty-one-million school hours are lost each year due to oral health problems,” Schooley says. “Learning is difficult enough the way it is but when you’re distracted by a toothache or pain of some type, it really compounds the problem.”

A recent survey found 12% of parents reported their child had missed school due to oral health problems.

He suggests parents pack a healthy school lunch and snacks, including fresh fruits and vegetables, while limiting the amount of pop kids drink.

Also, if they’re taking part in sports, make sure they wear mouth guards.