Time for Back To School Dental Hygiene Appointments
With summer flying by almost as fast as Pluto, it’s time for parents to make their child’s dental hygiene appointment before school starts. I know this might seem too early or perhaps they don’t believe there is a dental problem with their child right now, but the facts tell us that close to 2.6 million school days are missed by kids who have tooth pain. 31% of U.S. parents recently surveyed agreed with this statistic.
I have for you three ways to share your message of prevention with parents who have children ages 6-12:
- Assess current state of caries risk
- Monitor dental sealants
- Home care
First, review the current caries risk category that the child fits in. Many patients are not even aware this exists! Share what makes up the 3 categories of low, moderate and high for both child and parent to understand. For example, a child who has orthodontics is at a high risk for decay and demineralization of the enamel. Diet habits and good oral hygiene practices at home are going to be key for removal of debris around brackets or appliances. And, while fluoride varnish will likely be applied each dental hygiene visit, other products that promote remineralization of enamel may be recommended by the dental hygienist as well.
Next, determine whether sealants that were placed are still intact, or, if they need to be replaced? Many factors go into placing a sealant, but ideally they may last between 5-10 years. It’s important to reiterate to parents that those sealants that are not permanent, thus the benefit of a dental hygiene exam.
Now, we’ve heard that kids tend to have lower grades and experience trouble focusing when they have a dental problem. This is so preventable. Parents, grandparents or any responsible adult who cares for your child must be informed on proper oral health routines at home.
I remember receiving questions on how to get kids to floss. The reality is that kids lack the dexterity to properly floss until about age 9. When going back to school is already stressful on parents and children – why are we adding to this with “floss” patrol? Share options with parents like interdental brushes, which remove the bacteria in-between surfaces of the teeth that touch.
Remember, a great place to engage current patients about the benefit of kids getting a dental hygiene exam before school starts is on your professional Facebook page. It may not bring you masses of new patients, but kids cannot drive themselves to you. The only way to get to this next generation and CHANGE the facts as mentioned above is to break the cycle of parents’ perceived beliefs. It takes commitment to invest in a child’s oral health. It takes commitment to schedule and get those kids in. And, it takes commitment from us to see it through.
Anastasia L. Turchetta, RDH
America’s Dental Hygienist