Most parents schedule physicals with their child’s doctor when it’s time to return to school, but experts also recommend a visit to the dentist.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five children, ages five to 11, have at least one untreated, decayed tooth.
Laura Myers, Director of Dental Services at CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health dental center in Columbia, Lancaster County, discussed the need on Daybreak Tuesday.
Myers offered parents several tips to alleviate the stress of a dental visit, including:
1. Schedule back-to-back dental visits for siblings and allow the more experienced child to go first. Older children who are more comfortable seeing the dentist can help alleviate fears and apprehensions of younger siblings by serving as role models.
2. Plan a special post-dentist reward for your child. Pre-planning a special reward – such as a favorite lunch, a family movie night, or special experience like cooking a fun and healthy meal with mom or dad – gives your child something to look forward to after a successful dental checkup.
3. Have your dentist check your child’s mouth guard to prepare for sports seasons. Take full advantage of your appointment by having your dentist check to makes sure your child’s mouth guard is in good shape and is the right type for your child’s mouth.
4. Make sure your child is well-rested and has had a light nutritious meal or snack before a dental visit. Summer schedules often mean later bedtimes and extra treats. Make sure that your child gets plenty of rest and eats a healthy meal prior to visiting the dentist. A tired and hungry child usually means a more frustrating experience for everyone.
5. Use books and videos to reassure children who are nervous. Going to the dentist may cause anxiety for your child even if they have been there before. Use books and videos that talk about what your child will experience at the dentist to remind them that there is nothing to fear.
“Back to school time is extremely challenging for parents who are juggling new morning routines, numerous after school activities and additional demands like homework,” said Myers. “But it’s important that a dental checkup makes it on every parent’s to-do list.”
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