Although you will not find it on your back-to-school list, starting the school year with a dental exam is a great routine recommended by pediatric dentists around the globe. Statistics from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research report that 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had dental caries (cavities) in their primary teeth. Starting kids out with good overall dental health sets them up for fewer missed school days, and a better chance at maintaining their teeth for life. The Chicago public school schedule lists September 4 as the first day of school. Making sure your kids start the year off with a healthy smile will let them focus on learning, socializing and playing.
Why Do Kids Need a Before-school Checkup?
While biannual (twice-a-year) checkups are recommended for both children and adults, scheduling one of these exams near the start of the school year provides a good time to address any conditions requiring attention – such as decay – to avoid missing a school day for a dental appointment.
As noted by Dr. Mark Bentley, of Excellence in Dentistry, dental decay can affect a child’s ability to chew, as well as their speech and academic achievement. It can be difficult for children to focus on important tasks, or simply being a child, when they are experiencing constant pain or discomfort. By proactively visiting the dentist, decay can be dealt with as early as possible. It also serves as an educational opportunity to set children up for lifelong healthy oral hygiene habits.
During your child’s back-to-school dental check up, they should receive an examination for caries and any indication of oral disease. They will also have a teeth cleaning, including fluoride. Following this step is a great opportunity to ask the dentist about specific recommendations for toothpastes, brushes or other products your child may need. If it is your child’s first dental visit, or they find visiting the dentist to be difficult, there are steps you can take to alleviate their stress. Depending on a child’s age and oral health, they may need to see a dentist more, or less, frequently.
- Ages 6 months to 1 year: Schedule a child’s first dental appointment after the first tooth erupts, no later than their first birthday. Despite having only one tooth, the dentist will check your child’s gums, jaw, and bite, look for frenum (soft tissue that holds the lips to the gum) issues, or other problems that may affect teeth or speech patterns. If this is your first child, the dentist will also advise you on oral hygiene practices you should be carrying out.
- Toddlers, elementary school-age children and adolescents: After the age of one, aim to see the dentist every six months. As baby teeth fall out and permanent teeth emerge, the dentist will be able to closely monitor any concerns and resolve them before they become more serious. As the likelihood for caries and oral disease increases with age, having routine deep cleanings and examinations performed become even more important.
Chicago Public School Schedule and Forms
While recommended for any grade level, CPS requires that all students in Kindergarten, 2nd and 6th grade receive an exam by a licensed dentist. CPS Dental Exam forms are available online, and should be presented prior to May 15 of the current school year. The Illinois State Board of Education has established that without these forms, the school may hold your child’s report card. For a full list of requirements and related information, you may view the documents here.
NK Family Dental is the Logan Square family and pediatric dentist you can count on. We take pride in helping children and adults establish healthy oral hygiene habits, and a smile they can confidently share. View the CPS School calendar to find a time that suits your schedule, and contact us to make an appointment today.