Teeth chattering: dental and orthodontic exams should be part of every child’s routine | Way of life


As summer draws to a close and families prepare for the start of a new school year, many parents are busy shopping for last-minute errands and appointments to set their children up for success. Haircuts, school supplies and physical exams may be on the agenda, but what about a back-to-school dental exam?

Neither the Oklahoma State Department of Health nor the State Department of Education maintains dental requirements for children in school, but a review at the end of summer could save your child in pain and a number of absences from school. Cavities are the most common chronic disease among school-aged children in the United States and cause more than 51 million missed school hours each year, according to the American Dental Association.

dr. Emily Carter and dr. Phyllis Higgins de Carter and Higgins Orthodontics advise children to start seeing a dentist after their first tooth appears and twice a year thereafter to familiarize them with the process and proactively fight cavities.

“The majority of cavities are preventable with good oral hygiene and simply being more aware of and limiting cariogenic (cavity-causing) foods,” Carter says. In many patients, Carter and Higgins have found that educating parents and children about what good oral hygiene looks like is the best method of prevention. For example, sugar is a known culprit of cavities, but so are the foods that build up in the grooves of our teeth. Sticky cheddar cheese crackers pose a risk to your teeth in much the same way as eating gummies because these cracker-like foods attract what Carter calls “cavity bugs” and can be just as damaging to your teeth.

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In addition to limiting harmful foods, Dr. Kyle Shannon of Shannon Orthodontics says, “Teaching a child to use a timer during supervised brushing in circular motions with light touch – not rubbing – can go a long way in maintaining good oral health.

Oral health also affects our overall health. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, there is growing evidence linking oral health — particularly periodontal (gum) disease — to several chronic diseases, including diabetes. , heart disease and stroke.

For children, a dental infection can quickly become systemic, but many children cannot identify their pain or communicate their level of discomfort, so parents often miss the warning signs. “When a child is already at a point where they’re in pain, it’s more serious,” Higgins says. “You usually can’t feel a cavity until it’s really bad, so it’s important to have those routine checkups to prevent it from getting to that point.”

There is more than one benefit to making your child feel comfortable at the dentist. Shannon says regular dental monitoring can detect growth, biting and crowding issues, which should be treated by an orthodontist. He recommends that all children see an orthodontist before the age of 6 or 7.

An initial orthodontic examination assesses the development of all teeth and their direction of eruption, with a panoramic X-ray. This insight can potentially help determine if a patient needs braces. A lateral x-ray is also taken to predict potential jaw growth issues.

Oral health is an investment that Carter says requires patients, doctors and parents to all do their part. “It’s not a perfect system,” she says. “But we try to make sure that (children and parents) understand their work; it’s teamwork.


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