Helping Your Kids Have a Successful Back-to-School Checkup


New clothes? Check. Cool new backpack? Check. Teeth cleaning? Check!

While regular visits with your kids’ dentist in Vancouver, WA are an important part of protecting your child’s oral health year-round, back-to-school dental visits play a vital role in helping to fight the most common chronic disease found in kids in the U.S. – tooth decay. In fact, kids miss more than 51 million hours of school each year due to oral health related problems like tooth decay, cavities, and tooth pain.

The early detection and prevention of tooth decay can help your child avoid any unnecessary discomfort, trouble eating, difficulty speaking, and absences from school related to tooth pain. So when you’re getting your child ready for school this year, make sure a visit to see your kids’ dentist in Vancouver, WA is added to the to-do list along with school supplies and a trip to the pediatrician.

Plan in Advance

Between family vacations, trips to the coast, and everything else that pops up during the summer, it’s easy for the start of the school year to arrive before you know it. This leads many parents to wait until the last minute before trying to schedule their kids’ dental appointments. Unfortunately, August and early September are some of the busiest times of year for pediatric dentists in Vancouver.

Avoid the rush by scheduling your child’s dental appointment well in advance. We even recommend parents schedule their appointments in the spring to ensure they can get the times and dates they want. Even if you’ve forgot to schedule an appointment in advance, don’t give up just because the calendar is full now. An appointment in October can still provide your kids the protection they need against tooth decay.

Encourage Good Dental Habits at Home

Parents and kids should always strive for a cavity-free checkup. You can help make this happen by encouraging your kids to always brush at least twice a day for two minutes and to floss daily.

The best dental hygiene practices really depend on the age of your child and range from the following habits:

Kids 6 and Under

At this young age, your kids may have the desire to brush on their own, but they simply don’t yet have the motor control or manual dexterity needed to do it correctly. However, so you don’t hamper their enthusiasm, let them start brushing and then provide a little assistance when needed.

During this age, the mouth continues to develop at such a rapid rate that many kids who are 5 or 6 still practice the same hygiene habits they did at the age of 2 or 3. This leads them to neglect brushing new molars, and they’re not accommodating the fact that their teeth continue to grow and expand.

Ages 7-12

By this age, your kids should have the ability and knowledge to properly brush and floss every day, they just may lack the desire. To keep your kids focused on the importance of quality oral health, you need to continue encouraging them to practice healthy hygiene habits. This may require a little more direct supervision than you’d like, but by the time your kids become teenagers they should have a better sense of the importance of self-care.

Ages 12-18

The teenage years rank as some of the most important when it comes to your kids’ oral health development. Research has shown that cavities tend to develop during early adolescence and again during the teenage years and early adulthood. In addition to teens having more control of what they eat and drink, part of the renewed risk of cavities that occurs is due to the fact that many teens may have gone years without developing a cavity. This leads them to develop poor oral hygiene habits simply because they no longer remember the consequences of what happens when they don’t brush or floss.

Timing is Key

The time of day you schedule your kids’ dental appointments can have a big influence on whether things go smoothly.

It’s important that you don’t schedule an appointment during nap time for any child used to taking naps. If your kids have a tendency to be a little cranky after waking up, you should factor that into when you schedule their appointments.

For older kids, avoid trying to fit a dental appointment in immediately after school or practice. Not every kid has the energy for this type of full day. Overscheduling your kids increases the risk of an appointment going badly if they become uncooperative or refuse to participate.

Hungry Kids Make Horrible Patients

Take the time of give your kids a small snack before their appointments. We can all get a little grouchy when operating on an empty stomach. To make your kids as comfortable as possible, a small snack of healthy fruits and vegetables can give them the energy needed to get through their appointment successfully.

Just make sure your kids have time to finish their snack before reaching the office. Your kids’ dentist in Vancouver will appreciate not having to work around a mouth full of food when trying to clean your child’s teeth.