Back to school means back to the basics

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August 20th, 2016

Kids looking out of a school bus window

It’s that time of year again to review your child’s back to school checklist. From new clothes to backpacks, your child is set to go back to school in style. Another task to check off the list before school starts is a trip to the dentist.

Dental checkups are key to fighting the most common chronic disease in school-age children, cavities. More than 51 million hours of school are missed every year because of dental disease. “Prevention and early detection of oral health issues during dental checkups can help your child avoid future dental problems and oral diseases. It is important to encourage children to brush and floss properly and visit the dentist regularly,” said Dr. Sheila Strock, Vice President of Dental Services at Delta Dental of Minnesota.

*Review these 8 tips to help your child have a positive back to school dental check-up:

  • Encourage healthy habits at home: The best way to have a good check-up is to practice healthy dental habits at home. Children 6 and under need more attention than pre-teens (7-12). They might want to do all the brushing and/or flossing by themselves, but it is important to assist when needed to ensure teeth get a thorough cleaning. At the pre-teen age, your child knows how to take proper care of their oral health, but they might not want to. Encouragement is key to make sure your child’s oral health is getting proper attention, regardless of their age.
  • Plan Ahead: Summers get busy, especially with family outings, barbeques and traveling, but it’s important to prioritize visiting the dentist before school starts.
  • Understand your child’s temperament at the Dentist: If your child gets agitated during the appointment, it is important as a parent to stay calm and not leave the checkup right away if something goes wrong. Work with the dentist to see how the two of you can keep the visit going. Let the dentist lead the discussion with your child and jump in when needed.
  • Make one child a model: If you have more than one child, and one handles visiting the dentist better than the other, choose the child who’s had the most positive experiences at the dentist to go first. You generally want the child who has the easiest time in the dentist’s chair to go first so the others can see how it goes.
  • Stick to your schedule: For toddlers, the timing of their dental appointment is crucial. If the checkup is scheduled during their usual nap time, the appointment might be more difficult for your child (and you). Schedule the appointment around typical nap and feeding times so you don’t interrupt your child’s daily schedule.
  • Keep Calm: As a parent, it’s important to leave any negative thoughts about the dentist at the door. Children can pick up on parents’ anxiety.
  • Feed your child a healthy snack after visiting the dentist: Feed your child a light snack after the appointment in case the checkup is during your child’s snack time.
  • Keep in contact with your dentist: Accidents can happen whether your child is in sports camp, gym class or just walking down the street. In case of an emergency, make sure your child’s teachers and coaches have all the medical contact information they need – including your dentist’s number.

For more oral health tips, and for more information about Delta Dental of Minnesota, visit

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